Healthy Grain Alternatives To Wheat


September / October 2016

By Dr. Angela Dagley

Doesn’t whole grain mean healthy? Aren’t we meant to have our diets consist of mainly grains? Not necessarily. What’s the deal with gluten? Why is gluten the villain all of a sudden?

We advise our patients to avoid gluten for this reason: It is inflammatory! And we all know inflammation is the basis of all chronic disease. Even the name comes from the Latin word meaning “glue.” When we eat gluten, it becomes a glue like substance, coating our intestines and not allowing other nutrients to be absorbed. Some key points that gluten sensitivity can affect:

• Inflammation of the gut leading to “leaky gut”

• Damage to the normal gut flora (micro biome)

• GI symptoms including bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea and/or constipation

• Brain fog and an increase in vulnerability to dementia and Alzheimer’s • Autoimmune diseases including autoimmune thyroid disorders, type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune liver disease

There are many articles on the negative side effects of gluten but it often begs the question, what grains should I eat?

Quinoa: A great grain to enjoy because it has a protein content of 12-18% with a balanced array of amino acids. It also contains good sources of dietary fiber, iron, and magnesium. The best way to prepare quinoa is to soak the grain for several hours or overnight. This allows the saponin (a less digestible part of the grain) to separate from the grain. You can prepare it just like rice by bringing a 1.5:1 ratio of water to presoaked quinoa to a boil, reducing to simmer, and covering for 14-18 minutes until the germ comes apart from the seed. It is great to pair with stir fry vegetables for dinner or to serve with coconut oil and raw honey for breakfast.

Millet: A nutrient dense starchy grain with a high amount of B Vitamins. It also contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and iron! Plus it is a good source of dietary fiber and essential fats. Millet is usually ground into a flour and accompanied by flax in breads but is also the basis of many gluten free cereals and porridges.

Brown Rice: The unprocessed form of white rice, the hull & bran of brown rice deliver amazing nutrients such as selenium, manganese, and also healthy oils. Its high content of fiber allows the delayed processing of the starch sugars, making it a great choice for diabetics.

Amaranth: A grain with a high fiber content with lysine, which helps the cells absorb calcium & build energy. A healthy source of magnesium, copper, calcium, zinc, and potassium with essential B vitamins. You can cook amaranth by bringing a combination of 3:1 ratio of liquid to grain to a boil and then reducing to a covered simmer for 20 minutes. You can also pop like popcorn in a pot with coconut oil!

Other “Non-Grain” Flours: Coconut Flour is nutritionally dense in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. It actually isn’t a grain but the coconut meat that has been dried and ground. It works great as a gluten free baking alternative. Almond Flour is a more costly alternative to regular wheat flour but has amazing health benefits! It contains the same benefits as almonds, delivering monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E, and magnesium. It’s great for those on a paleo dietary plan as it is high in protein and low in carbohydrates and sugars!

We encourage you to be researchers and label readers. One of our main goals is to educate people so that they can make the decisions of how they want to eat and how it affects their health. We hold free educational seminars monthly in our office and you can attend by registering online at