Eating whole grain foods intact and unaltered may be one of the best things we can do for our health. Like medicinal plants, whole grains have been intrinsically designed with a wide array of inherent compounds which potentiate and complement each other. We got in trouble when we isolated certain chemicals from herbs to create synthetic drugs and threw away the rest, causing a whole host of various bad side effects to result. Separating grain constituents may not be as desirable as eating the whole food, the way Mother Nature intended. Annmarie Colbin, in her book Foods and Healing, writes:
. . . instead of eating a vegetable in the shape in which it grows, we consume it in fragmented form, its separate components split apart, and we are not following the natural scheme of things. When we consume wheat germ, white flour and bran separately, it is not the same as eating them in their natural, integrated and properly balanced state as whole wheat. . . . A hundred or so years ago, it was discovered that stripping the bran and germ off the wheat made the flour not only whiter and fluffier, but also longer-lasting . . . soon we were eating white bread and putting wheat germ in the meat loaf . . . Noting that almost half the Western world is constipated, food reformers, following Dr. Burkitt's lead, identified bran as the bowel saving element.
Current data strongly suggest that we look at the value of whole foods very carefully. When we eat bran or fragmented flours separately, our living systems react to them differently than a whole, integrated food. When cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are altered or fragmented, they become artificial foods to some extent. Of course, it would be bettter to use bran separately than to not get it at all. But just by refining wheat flour into white flour, not only are the bran and germ removed, but over 15 nutrients are lost or compromised as well. The notion that artificially enriching white flour will return it to its original nutritive state is a fallacy. Annmarie Colbin compares this to, . . . cutting off your arm and then fitting you with a prosthetic oneùit may have the same form and fulfill some of the same functions, but it is hardly as good as the original.
The notion of consuming foods in their original states also applies to fruits and vegetables. When you juice fruits and vegetables, their fibrous components are often discarded as pulp. While apple, carrot, grape and other juices have nutritive value, when their fiber is either screened out or altered, they are assimilated differently. Altered fruits and grains can make us get hungrier quicker, which may contibute to weight gain. We need to remember to reach for whole, unpeeled fruits rather than fruit juices. It is also beneficial to keep vegetables dressed, eating them peeling and all whenever feasible. Finally, we need to try to always purchase foods in their original whole states, looking to brown rice, whole wheat, and whole barley.