Millets: The Forgotten Grains

One of the oldest foods known to mankind, millets were the first cereal grains that were consumed by human beings. Cultivated in East Asia as many as 10,000 years ago, this drought-resistant grain is more widely eaten than even rice.
Millets are a group of small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops/ grains. They are tiny in size and round in shape and can be white, gray, yellow or red. These foods are packed with many essential nutrients.

The main distinguishing characteristic of millets is that they don't contain the protein called “Gluten” which makes them excellent choices for people who have a hard time digesting gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye & barley.
Their protein structure is quite similar to wheat, making them a great gluten-free substitute.

Types of millets

Following are the millets that are typically grown in India:

  1. Pearl (aka Bajra):

India is the highest producer of pearl millet or Bajra. It is super high in protein, fuels you up, and is great for rotis. It’s also eaten sprouted and in porridges. Pearl millet is a rich source of phosphorus, which plays an important part in the structure of body cells. Consumption of pearl millets helps in minimizing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Being a good source of magnesium, millets act as a cofactor in a number of enzymatic reactions.

  1. Kodo:

Kodo millets contain high amounts of polyphenols, an antioxidant compound, they also are high on fibre and low on fat. It is ideal for diabetics, and can be substituted for rice.

  1. Little Millet:

Little Millet seeds are smaller than other millets. They are also high in Iron content, high in fibre like Kodo and have high antioxidant activity. It helps with diabetes and stomach diseases.

  1. Finger Millet (aka Ragi):

Finger millet has the highest calcium content and is a staple food in Karnataka in the form of muddes. It is rich in calcium and protein and also has a good amount of iron and other minerals. Ragi tops in antioxidant activity among common Indian foods, Ragi also has some good number of Essential Amino Acids (EAA) which are essential for the human body.

  1. Foxtail:

With the highest mineral content of all millets, foxtail millet is justifiably the second most produced in the world. Foxtails not only do not need any fumigants but act as anti-pest agents to store delicate pulses such as green gram. They also control blood sugar and cholesterol levels & increase HDL cholesterol.

  1. Barnyard:

Barnyard millet has the highest fiber and iron content amongst its fellow millets and also grows faster.

  1. Sorghum (aka Jowar):

The hardy grain that’s consumed all over India as rotis and porridges, thanks to its high protein + carb + energy composition.

  1. Proso:

Proso has the highest protein content and is quite high in carbs as well. Of the millets, we’d recommend this only when you’re working out strenuously or trying to build muscle.

Health Benefits of Millets:

  1. Protects Heart Health:

Researchers from the University of Kentucky have shown a link between whole grains and the prevention of heart disease risk. It is a rich source of magnesium, which is an important mineral for reducing blood pressure and the risk of heart attack or stroke, particularly in the case of atherosclerosis.

  1. Aids in Digestion:

Millet can help move your gastrointestinal system by eliminating problems like constipation, excess gas, bloating, and cramping.

  1. Diabetes Management:

Millet is a gluten-free whole grain. It is a good source of fiber and has a low glycemic index which has a positive effect against diabetes. Apart from these obvious benefits, a study published in the Frontiers in Plant Science journal also cites millets as a suitable dietary component to combat the growing prevalence of diabetes worldwide.

  1. Rich in Antioxidants:

Millets are a rich source of phenols and antioxidants like quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid, and various other beneficial catechins which can help rid your system of any foreign agents and toxins by promoting proper excretion and neutralizing enzymatic activity in certain organs.

  1. Helps to Prevent Asthma Symptoms

According to research published by the Indian Institute of Millets Research, it can be helpful for people suffering from asthma. The paper suggests that the high levels of magnesium in pearl millets can help alleviate respiratory issues in asthma patients while also reducing migraines.

What can you make with millets?

Everything. Anything. Just substitute them for grains and also come up with new ways of using them. Their higher nutritional value makes every dish much more filling and better for you. From idlis, dosas and upma to khichdi, pulao/biriyani and kheer/payasam, millets are the most versatile ingredients you can ever use.

Anti-Nutrients present in millets:

Millets are staple foods in most parts of India. They have naturally occurring anti-nutritional factors such as phytic acid that decrease their dietary mineral availability. The levels are higher in sorghum & finger millet. A research conducted on “effects of fermentation on phytic acid content of millets” showed soaking & fermenting them for 72-96 hours significantly reduced (around 40-70%) phytic acid levels. The extent of decrease of phytic acid differed among the millet varieties. Fermentation, too, increases the rate of available iron, manganese, & calcium from both sorghum and finger millet.

ThriveFNC’s take on Millets:

We have used millets in rice to cakes almost in all things, it goes very well as a gluten-free substitute. It has helped a lot of our clients to go gluten-free and add a variety in the diet. They provide a lot of benefits as discussed below but we need to keep on rotating them in order to get a variety of nutrients in the diet. However, one needs to limit the use of millets because of the anti-nutrients present in them.

Word of Caution: Given the modern stresses on our body, particularly to our glandular system, the excessive work needed to digest and process millet may be damaging. Consider speaking to your health coach about your glandular and thyroid health before making a major shift to a diet that includes millet. If you don't have a health coach then hire one so they can guide towards your journey of health.

References:

  1. http://www.thepharmajournal.com/archives/2016/vol5issue8/PartA/5-7-24-301.pdf
  2. http://www.isayorganic.com/blog/top-5-types-of-millets/
  3. https://www.indiankhana.net/2014/09/millets-millets-types-benefits-nutrition.html
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Effect-of-fermentation-on-the-phytic-acid-content-of-finger-millet-grain_tbl4_11094733
  5. https://www.schaer.com/en-us/a/millet-benefits#:~:text=With%209%20grams%20of%20fiber,boost%20liver%20and%20kidney%20function.
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2000.10718963
  7. https://japsonline.com/admin/php/uploads/299_pdf.pdf
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037128/
  9. http://millets.res.in/m_recipes/Nutritional_health_benefits_millets.pdf
About the Author

Suyash Bhandari
Suyash has a Master's in Food Science and Nutrition, is a certified sports and clinical nutritionist, a certified nutrigenomics counselor and a certified holistic lifestyle coach. His ability to teach his patients about their mind-body connection and the root causes of their health problems makes him a key member of team Thrive.

Everything you need to know about Celery

Celery (Apium graveolens) is an extremely old vegetable, with records showing that parts of the plant were found in the tomb of the pharaoh “King Tutankhamun,” who died in 1323 B.C. 

In the past, celery was grown as a vegetable mostly during the winter and in the early spring months. People mostly liked to eat it to help with “cleansing” and believed that it acted as a natural detox tonic that could prevent sickness. Celery may be eaten raw in salads or alone by juicing, or boiled with sauces and as a condiment for soups, stews, etc. It can also be used as an aromatic ingredient and besides the stalks, the leaves and seeds of the plant are also used.

CELERY JUICE- A medicinal remedy

The concept of celery juice as a cure-all in the modern age came from medical medium Anthony William, who's been preaching this health hack for the past 20 years.

He also advises that, “If you drink your celery juice empty stomach without adding salt or lemon, first thing in the morning, it will also strengthen your digestion of foods you eat for the rest of the day.

There is research that says that the antioxidant compounds in celery can help remove free radicals, says functional medicine doctor Jill Baron, M.D., However, she adds that "we don't have the research in humans at this time to verify all the claims."

What makes Celery so beneficial? 

Apparently celery is able to starve pathogens, plus it contains a multitude of undiscovered mineral salts that act together as an antiseptic. When these powerful mineral salts make contact with viruses and bacteria such as Epstein-Barr, HHV-6, Shingles, Streptococcus; and other pathogens (which are troublemakers, responsible for chronic illness) the salts begin to break down the pathogens’ cell membranes, eventually killing and destroying them.

Celery’s naturally occurring sodium actually helps stabilize blood pressure, bringing it down when it’s too high and up when it’s too low. Further, it won’t dehydrate your organs—instead, it clings to toxic, dangerous salts from poor-quality foods and helps draw them out of your body while replacing them with undiscovered cluster salts.

Benefits of Celery Juice

  1. Rich in several nutrients: 

Celery juice is very nutrient-dense. It is also low in calories but high in several vitamins and minerals. In particular, the celery juice nutrition profile offers a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin K and folate. It also contains an array of other key micronutrients as well, including potassium, vitamin C and manganese.

  1. High in antioxidants:

Antioxidants are compounds that help fight disease-causing free radicals to protect cells against damage.

One of the top health benefits of celery juice is its antioxidant content. In fact, a review in Iran actually found that celery is a good source of several powerful antioxidants, including kaempferol, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, luteolin and saponin. According to an animal study published in the journal Molecules, celery juice was also able to prevent oxidative stress in rats treated with Doxorubicin, a type of chemotherapy drug.

  1. May Help Reduce Inflammation:

Studies show that celery may contain several key compounds that can help decrease inflammation in the body. Not only can this potentially decrease symptoms of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, but it could also help protect against chronic diseases as well.

  1. Supports Hydration:

Celery has a high water content and is actually composed of about 95 percent water by weight. Thanks to its water content, celery juice can help promote proper hydration, which is essential to overall health.

  1. Can decrease Blood Pressure:

Some studies suggest that celery juice benefits heart health and could potentially help lower blood pressure. One 2015 animal model published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine showed that celery leaf extract was effective at decreasing systolic blood pressure in mice. Not only that, but it was also able to improve other aspects of heart health and helped lower levels of triglycerides and “bad” LDL and VLDL cholesterol.

How do you know whether celery juice is working for you or not?

Consume it for 15 days- 1 month & then stop. You'll know if it's working for you or not.

Are there any downsides for consuming celery juice?

Phototoxic psoralens or furocoumarins, compounds present in celery, which are activated by ultraviolet sunlight and can cause dermatitis and sunburn and increase the risk of skin cancer. Celery might increase your sensitivity to sunlight.

Just like grapefruit juice, celery juice contains natural chemicals called furanocoumarins that have been known to interact with certain medications (causing concentration levels to rise) within your body. 

Also Celery is high in oxalates. Oxalates are compounds that are found in many plant foods, including celery. In some individuals, consuming a high-oxalate diet can increase the risk of kidney stones. One stalk of celery contains 3 mg of oxalates & when consumed in juice form the oxalate levels can go to 1 gm. If you have sensitivity to oxalates, then celery juice might impact your health negatively

ThriveFNC’s take on Celery juice:

We often recommended celery juice to our patients who come to us with chronic health issues. The ones who benefit the most are the ones with gut health issues especially the ones with acid reflux, hyperacidity or H.pylori infections. We’ve also seen it work really well in people who have high blood pressure. However, given that it is high in oxalates, we really tread with caution with celery juice. Some of our patients have instantly seen negative reactions to celery juice. 

As always, if you want to figure out which foods should fit into your personalized nutrition plan, reach out to us and we’d be happy to help. 

References:

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-882/celery

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/science-behind-celery-juice-trend

https://www.frutas-hortalizas.com/Vegetables/About-Celery.html

https://www.stjoes.ca/patients-visitors/patient-education/patient-education-k-o/pd-9447-oxalate-in-food.pdf

About the Author

Suyash Bhandari
Suyash has a Master's in Food Science and Nutrition, is a certified sports and clinical nutritionist, a certified nutrigenomics counselor and a certified holistic lifestyle coach. His ability to teach his patients about their mind-body connection and the root causes of their health problems makes him a key member of team Thrive.