Barley:a legacy from the Stone Age?
Barley Keeps You Healthy:Health benefits and concerns.:
What do Spartacus and Budweiser have in common? Barley - the hearty grain that gladiators ate to give them strength and that breweries use to make beer.
Barley's popularity and status as a health food goes back thousands of years. Greeks cultivated it as long ago as 7000 B.C., and ancient Chinese, Egyptians, and Romans made it an important part of their diet. People also used barley to treat boils, stomach disorders and urinary tract infections.
Today, barley crops up mostly in soups, cereal, beer and animal feed. But its ability to fight heart disease, cancer, and diabetes should earn it a more prominent place in your diet. After all, barley practically overflows with fiber and contains key minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
Loading up on soups and cereal made with barley is not the only way to get more of this great grain. Next time you are baking, try sifting some barley flour into the mixing bowl. Or add some barley to your rice to create a more fiber-rich meal. Think of it as entering the arena to battle the enemies of good health.
Celiac disease (also called gluten-induced enteropathy) is an intestinal disorder caused by intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. While oats contain a substance similar to gluten, modern research has found that eating moderate amounts of oats does not appear to cause problems for people with celiac disease. In one of these reports, approximately 95 percent of people with celiac disease tolerated 50 grams of oats per day for up to 12 months. Strict avoidance of wheat, barley, and rye usually results in an improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms within a few weeks, although in some cases improvement may take many months.
Tests of absorptive function usually improve after a few months on a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease is associated with various degrees of osteoporosis and bone mineral loss. Long-term adherence to a gluten-free diet ensures normal bone density and is an important preventive measure in young people with celiac disease.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS):
Limited research has suggested that fiber may help people with IBS. However, most studies have found that IBS sufferers do not benefit by adding wheat bran to their diets and some feel worse as a result of wheat bran supplementation. It has been suggested that the lack of positive response to wheat bran may result from wheat sensitivity, which is one of the most common triggers for food sensitivity in people with IBS. Rye, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, vegetables, and psyllium husk, all good sources of fiber, are less likely to trigger food sensitivities than is wheat bran. However, except for psyllium, little is known about the effects of these other fibers in people with IBS.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that people with psoriasis may improve on a hypoallergenic diet. Three trials have reported that eliminating gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) improved psoriasis for some people. A doctor can help people with psoriasis determine whether gluten or other foods are contributing to their skin condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA):
In one trial lasting 14 weeks, a pure vegetarian, gluten-free (no wheat, rye, or barley) diet was gradually changed to permit dairy, leading to improvement in both symptoms and objective laboratory measures of disease.
Conquers Cholesterol:Lowers cholesterol
Behind every healthy food, there is a healthy ingredient. In the case of barley, the behind-the-scenes dynamo is a form of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Powered by beta-blucan, time and time again, barley has shown it can lower cholesterol. And remember when you cut artery-clogging cholesterol, you also cut your risk of heart disease. Even in forms as various as barley flour, oil, muesli, or pasta the results are the same.
As food travels through your body, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles carry cholesterol to cells, where it can do damage. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles pick up the cholesterol and whisk it to your liver, which converts it to bile and gets rid of it. This process is called "reverse cholesterol transport".
Beta-glucan is sticky; therefore, it slows down the movement of food through your stomach and small intestine. That gives the HDL particles more time to pick up cholesterol, reducing the chances it will be absorbed later. It slows down lipid absorption and gives more time for reverse cholesterol transport to happen.
Beta-glucan is a complex sugar derived from the cell wall of oat and barley fiber. Beta-glucan is the key factor for the cholesterol-lowering effect of oat bran. As with other soluble-fiber components, the binding of cholesterol (and bile acids) by beta-glucan and the resulting elimination of these molecules in the feces are very helpful for reducing blood cholesterol.
Balances Out Blood Pressure:Controls blood pressure
This healthy grain contains potassium, a mineral that keeps your blood pressure in control. Along with fiber and magnesium - also in barley - potassium may lower your chance of stroke. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently decided to allow foods meeting specific requirements for potassium, sodium, fat and cholesterol to advertise they reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. You may see a claim like this on your next package of barley.
Obesity seriously raises your risk for a variety of health problems, including heart disease. But the fiber in barley can help you lose weight. Here is how:A certain hormone in your gut, cholecystokinin (CCK) is associated with feelings of fullness. When people eat a low fat diet, their CCK levels go up, then back down to normal, or fasting, level. When they eat barley, their CCK still goes up after the meal, but it never makes it all the way back down to fasting level. That means you will probably feel more full after a barely meal. And if you feel full, you are less likely to overeat and put on unwanted pounds.
Curbs Colon Cancer:Combats cancer
When it comes to roller coasters, bigger and faster means better. If you want to protect yourself against colon cancer, start thinking this way about your stool.
It is the fiber in barley that may give you this protection. It adds bulk to your stool and hurries it through your large intestine. In fact, a study at the Texas AM University showed that eating barley bran flour increased stool weight by almost 50 grams and slashed transit time by eight hours.
Do not get confused! Barley does slow food down in your stomach and small intestine - which helps out with cholesterol levels. But foods normally spend ten times longer in your large intestine, which absorbs cancer-causing agents. That means a bulkier, faster-moving stool is less likely to hang around and cause trouble.
In addition, barley might battle colon cancer by changing the tiny organisms in your large bowel. When these organisms react with beta-glucan, they might produce compounds that protect your colon tissue.
Take note, that by itself; any one of these proposed mechanisms is not enough to prove a relation between fiber and cancer. It could be, in fact, multiple factors coming together. But you need this stuff for a healthy gut. Do not forget, in trying to prevent disease, you are trying to keep your gut healthy as well.
Defeats Diabetes:Battles diabetes
Because of barley's effect on cholesterol and other heart concerns, you might have guessed it would be a good food for diabetics. Experts specifically recommend a high-fiber diet with both soluble and cereal fiber. Barley fits the bill.
Barley may be a great source of fiber, but not all forms have the same amount. With over 31 grams of fiber per cup, whole-grain barley offers you the most protection. Pearl barley, the most common form, is more refined - meaning some of the nutrients are removed. One cup of cooked pearl barley contains around five grams of fiber. That is almost one-fifth the amount experts' say you need every day. Barley flour or meal, on the other hand, contains almost 15 grams of fiber per cup.
Other variables include coarsely ground Scotch barley and barley grits. Like whole-grain barley, you will find these in most health food stores.
Few Cheers for Beers:
If you are looking to reap the benefits of barley by drinking beer, look elsewhere. It is true breweries use barley, but they remove most of the beta-glucan so the sticky stuff does not gum up the machines. Therefore, you are not going to get fiber from a frosty mug of beer. (sorry!)
You might gain some health benefits, though. One recent study in the British Medical Journal states that men who drink a moderate amount of beer daily are less likely to have a heart attack than those who never drink. However, the heart attack odds skyrocketed if they drink twice a day or more.
Bottom line: If you do not drink beer, it is not worth taking up the habit. But if you already drink, limit yourself to about one beer per day.
- 1.Barley:a legacy from the Stone Age?
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