In comparison to whole grains, refined grains refer to grain products that have been severely modified from their natural form. Grains are termed as 'refined' when the bran & germ of the grain are removed, which in turn strips the grain of all fiber, vitamins, & minerals that make it so nutritious. The process does call for the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, & folic acid) as well as iron, that were removed, to be 'restored'....hence the term 'enriched'. By using refined grains, the food industry is able to increase the shelf life. Refined grains like white rice, white bread, and white pasta, are missing the healthful nutrients of whole grains, which ultimately make it so easy to digest. The easy digestion causes blood sugar & insulin levels to spike. It's the repeated spikes that lead to insulin resistance & diabetes over time.
Have you ever noticed that when you're scarfing down a bag of potato chips, you really don't get "full"? You only stop eating when your hand hits the bottom of the empty bag. Or when you're eating white pastas (or white bread even, hello Macaroni Grill!), & it's so easy to just keep eating & eating, but without getting "full"? Or maybe you get full temporarily, but hungry soon after? That's because these refined grains are nothing like whole grains...even when they are enriched, they are still not 100% back to what they were when they had the germ & bran. On top of that, once they become refined, they never have the fiber back that they started with...which shows why you never really feel satisfied when eating them. Fiber is what leaves you feeling full.
Here are some scary numbers: the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that people who eat refined grains, compared to those who eat whole grains, have 40% higher levels of C-reactive protein. This C-reactive protein is a sign of chronic, low-level inflammation in the blood vessels that is linked to heart attacks & strokes. Furthermore, people who never eat whole grains have a 30% higher risk of developing diabetes than people who aim to eat just 3 servings of whole grains a day.
So what now? Here's a Get Clean Challenge for you: try eliminating foods from your home that contain processed grains. Look for the words "enriched" or "refined" & toss that food! Another thing to make note of, if the first ingredient does not say "100% whole _____"...tell it good-bye!
Don't get me wrong, I love potato chips, mainly Tostitos with a hint of Jalapeno...but I definitely do NOT consume them every day, and I make it a point to limit myself to ONE serving size. Ever look at that? Most chips, for 1 single serving, it's only a mere 8 to 15 chips...yikes. I think we've all over eaten a bit in that area! (Of course I kill myself in my next workout, but that's another blog!) Try incorporating whole grain bread into your sandwiches rather than using white bread, as a jump start.