Barley One Of the Most Nutritious Grains and Good For You

barley grainBarley is stated by historians to be the oldest of all cultivated grains. It seems to have been the principal bread plant among the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. The Jews especially held the grain in high esteem, and sacred history usually uses it interchangeably with wheat, when speaking of the fruits of the Earth.

Among the early Greeks and Romans, barley was almost the only food of the common people and the soldiers. The flour was made into gruel, after the following recipe: “Dry, near the fire or in the oven, twenty pounds of barley flour, then parch it. Add three pounds of linseed meal, half a pound of coriander seeds, two ounces of salt, and the water necessary.” If an especially delectable dish was desired, a little millet was also added to give the paste more “cohesion and delicacy.” Barley was also used whole as a food, in which case it was first parched, which is still the manner of preparing it in some parts of Palestine and many districts of India, also in the Canary Islands, where it is known as gofio .

In the time of Charles I, barley meal took the place of wheat almost entirely as the food of the common people in England. In some parts of Europe, India, and other Eastern countries, it is still largely consumed as the ordinary farinaceous food of the peasantry and soldiers. The early settlers of New England also largely used it for bread making.

Barley is less nutritious than wheat, and to many people is less agreeable in flavor. It is likewise somewhat inferior in point of digestibility. Its starch cells being less soluble, they offer more resistance to the gastric juice.

There are several distinct species of barley, but that most commonly cultivated is designated as two-rowed, or two-eared barley. In general structure, the barley grain resembles wheat and oats.

Simply deprived of its outer husk, the grain is termed Scotch milled or pot barley . Subjected still further to the process by which the fibrous outer coat of the grain is removed, it constitutes what is known as pearl barley . Pearl barley ground into flour is known as patent barley . Barley flour, owing to the fact that it contains so small a proportion of gluten, needs to be mixed with wheaten flour for bread-making purposes. When added in small quantity to whole-wheat bread, it has a tendency to keep the loaf moist, and is thought by some to improve the flavor.

The most general use made of this cereal as a food, is in the form of pearl, or Scotch, barley. When well boiled, barley requires about two hours for digestion.

How to Maintain a Healthy Digestion Systems

healthy digestionWith the stomach and other digestive organs in a state of perfect health, one is entirely unconscious of their existence, save when of feeling of hunger calls attention to the fact that food is required, or satiety warns us that a sufficient amount or too much has been eaten. Perfect digestion can only be maintained by careful observance of the rules of health in regard to habits of eating.

On the subject of Hygiene of Digestion, we quote a few paragraphs from Dr. Kellogg’s work on Physiology, in which is given a concise summary of the more important points relating to this:

“The hygiene of digestion has to do with the quality and quantity of food eaten, in the manner of eating it.

If the food is eaten too rapidly, it will not be properly divided, and when swallowed in coarse lumps, the digestive fluids cannot readily act upon it. On account of the insufficient mastication, the saliva will be deficient in quantity, and, as a consequence, the starch will not be well digested, and the stomach will not secrete a sufficient amount of gastric juice. It is not well to eat only soft or liquid food, as we are likely to swallow it without proper chewing. A considerable proportion of hard food, which requires thorough mastication, should be eaten at every meal.

Drinking Freely at Meals is harmful, as it not only encourages hasty eating, but dilutes the gastric juice, and thus lessens its activity. The food should be chewed until sufficiently moistened by saliva to allow it to be swallowed. When large quantities of fluid are taken into the stomach, digestion does not begin until a considerable portion of the fluid has been absorbed. If cold foods or drinks are taken with the meal, such as ice-cream, ice-water, iced milk or tea, the stomach is chilled, and a long delay in the digestive process is occasioned.

The Indians of Brazil carefully abstain from drinking when eating, and the same custom prevails among many other savage tribes.

Eating between Meals

The habit of eating apples, nuts, fruits, confectionery, etc., between meals is exceedingly harmful, and certain to produce loss of appetite and indigestion. The stomach as well as the muscles and other organs of the body requires rest. The frequency with which meals should be taken depends somewhat upon the age and occupation of an individual. Infants take their food at short intervals, and owing to its simple character, are able to digest it very quickly. Adults should not take food oftener than three times a day; and persons whose employment is sedentary say, in many cases at least, adopt with advantage the plan of the ancient Greeks, who ate but twice a day.

Simplicity in Diet

Taking too many kinds of food at a meal is a common fault which is often a cause of disease of the digestive-organs. Those nations are the most hardy and enduring whose dietary is most simple. The Scotch peasantry live chiefly upon oatmeal, the Irish upon potatoes, milk, and oatmeal, the Italian upon peas, beans, macaroni, and chestnuts; yet all these are noted for remarkable health and endurance. The natives of the Canary Islands, an exceedingly well-developed and vigorous race, subsist almost chiefly upon a food which they call gofio, consisting of parched grain, coarsely ground in a mortar and mixed with water.

Eating when Tired

It is not well to eat when exhausted by violent exercise, as the system is not prepared to do the work of digestion well. Sleeping immediately after eating is also a harmful practice. The process of digestion cannot well be performed during sleep, and sleep is disturbed by the ineffective efforts of the digestive organs. Hence the well-known evil effects of late suppers.

Eating too Much

Hasty eating is the greatest cause of over-eating. When one eats too rapidly, the food is crowded into the stomach so fast that nature has no time to cry, ‘Enough,’ by taking away the appetite before too much has been eaten. When an excess of food is taken, it is likely to ferment or sour before it can be digested. One who eats too much usually feels dull after eating.”

The Various Food Elements and Their Importance

food groupsThe purposes of food are to promote growth, to supply force and heat, and to furnish material to repair the waste which is constantly taking place in the body. Every breath, every thought, every motion, wears out some portion of the delicate and wonderful house in which we live. Various vital processes remove these worn and useless particles; and to keep the body in health, their loss must be made good by constantly renewed supplies of material properly adapted to replenish the worn and impaired tissues. This renovating material must be supplied through the medium of food and drink, and the best food is that by which the desired end may be most readily and perfectly attained. The great diversity in character of the several tissues of the body, makes it necessary that food should contain a variety of elements, in order that each part may be properly nourished and replenished.

The Different Food Elements

The various elements found in food are the following: Starch, sugar, fats, albumen, mineral substances, indigestible substances.

The digestible food elements are often grouped, according to their chemical composition, into three classes; vis., carbonaceous, nitrogenous, and inorganic. The carbonaceous class includes starch, sugar, and fats; the nitrogenous, all albuminous elements; and the inorganic comprises the mineral elements.

Starch is only found in vegetable foods; all grains, most vegetables, and some fruits, contain starch in abundance. Several kinds of sugar are made in nature’s laboratory; cane, grape, fruit, and milk sugar. The first is obtained from the sugar-cane, the sap of maple trees, and from the beet root. Grape and fruit sugars are found in most fruits and in honey. Milk sugar is one of the constituents of milk. Glucose, an artificial sugar resembling grape sugar, is now largely manufactured by subjecting the starch of corn or potatoes to a chemical process; but it lacks the sweetness of natural sugars, and is by no means a proper substitute for them. Albumen is found in its purest, uncombined state in the white of an egg, which is almost wholly composed of albumen. It exists, combined with other food elements, in many other foods, both animal and vegetable. It is found abundant in oatmeal, and to some extent in the other grains, and in the juices of vegetables. All natural foods contain elements which in many respects resemble albumen, and are so closely allied to it that for convenience they are usually classified under the general name of “albumen.” The chief of these is gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Casein, found in peas, beans, and milk, and the fibrin of flesh, are elements of this class.

Fats are found in both animal and vegetable foods. Of animal fats, butter and suet are common examples. In vegetable form, fat is abundant in nuts, peas, beans, in various of the grains, and in a few fruits, as the olive. As furnished by nature in nuts, legumes, grains, fruits, and milk, this element is always found in a state of fine subdivision, which condition is the one best adapted to its digestion. As most commonly used, in the form of free fats, as butter, lard, etc., it is not only difficult of digestion itself, but often interferes with the digestion of the other food elements which are mixed with it. It was doubtless never intended that fats should be so modified from their natural condition and separated from other food elements as to be used as a separate article of food. The same may be said of the other carbonaceous elements, sugar and starch, neither of which, when used alone, is capable of sustaining life, although when combined in a proper and natural manner with other food elements, they perform a most important part in the nutrition of the body. Most foods contain a percentage of the mineral elements. Grains and milk furnish these elements in abundance. The cellulose, or woody tissue, of vegetables, and the bran of wheat, are examples of indigestible elements, which although they cannot be converted into blood in tissue, serve an important purpose by giving bulk to the food.

With the exception of gluten, none of the food elements, when used alone, are capable of supporting life. A true food substance contains some of all the food elements, the amount of each varying in different foods.

The Uses of the Food Elements

Concerning the purpose which these different elements serve, it has been demonstrated by the experiments of eminent physiologists that the carbonaceous elements, which in general comprise the greater bulk of the food, serve three purposes in the body;

1. They furnish material for the production of heat;

2. They are a source of force when taken in connection with other food elements;

3. They replenish the fatty tissues of the body. Of the carbonaceous elements, starch, sugar, and fats, fats produce the greatest amount of heat in proportion to quantity; that is, more heat is developed from a pound of fat than from an equal weight of sugar or starch; but this apparent advantage is more than counterbalanced by the fact that fats are much more difficult of digestion than are the other carbonaceous elements, and if relied upon to furnish adequate material for bodily heat, would be productive of much mischief in overtaxing and producing disease of the digestive organs. The fact that nature has made a much more ample provision of starch and sugars than of fats in man’s natural diet, would seem to indicate that they were intended to be the chief source of carbonaceous food; nevertheless, fats, when taken in such proportion as nature supplies them, are necessary and important food elements.

The nitrogenous food elements especially nourish the brain, nerves, muscles, and all the more highly vitalized and active tissues of the body, and also serve as a stimulus to tissue change. Hence it may be said that a food deficient in these elements is a particularly poor food.

The inorganic elements, chief of which are the phosphates, in the carbonates of potash, soda, and lime, aid in furnishing the requisite building material for bones and nerves.

Maintaining The Proper Combinations of Foods

While it is important that our food should contain some of all the various food elements, experiments upon both animals and human beings show it is necessary that these elements, especially the nitrogenous and carbonaceous, be used in certain definite proportions, as the system is only able to appropriate a certain amount of each; and all excess, especially of nitrogenous elements, is not only useless, but even injurious, since to rid the system of the surplus imposes an additional task upon the digestive and excretory organs. The relative proportion of these elements necessary to constitute a food which perfectly meets the requirements of the system, is six of carbonaceous to one of nitrogenous. Scientists have devoted much careful study and experimentation to the determination of the quantities of each of the food elements required for the daily nourishment of individuals under the varying conditions of life, and it has come to be commonly accepted that of the nitrogenous material which should constitute one sixth of the nutrients taken, about three ounces is all that can be made use of in twenty-four hours, by a healthy adult of average weight, doing a moderate amount of work. Many articles of food are, however, deficient in one or the other of these elements, and need to be supplemented by other articles containing the deficient element in superabundance, since to employ a dietary in which any one of the nutritive elements is lacking, although in bulk it may be all the digestive organs can manage, is really starvation, and will in time occasion serious results.

It is thus apparent that much care should be exercised in the selection and combination of food materials. Such knowledge is of first importance in the education of cooks and housekeepers, since to them falls the selection of the food for the daily needs of the household; and they should not only understand what foods are best suited to supply these needs, but how to combine them in accordance with physiological laws.

What are Dietitians And What Do They Do?

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What are Dietitians?

A Registered Dietitian is an expert in the science of food and nutrition. They carry the credential “RD” meaning that they have had rigorous training in the area of food and nutrition, have passed a national exam and have stayed current on nutrition research through continuing education.  In simple terms, they are skilled at taking the hard science of food and nutrition and breaking it down into useful and simple tools for you.   Find a Registered Dietitian near you.

What can a dietitian do for you?

– Weight Loss Assistance
– Specialized Nutrition Counseling
– Menu planning
– Diabetes Management
– Menu Writing/Approval (schools, daycare, health care)
– Pregnancy and Lactation Guidance
– Child Nutrition
– Product Development
– Food Labeling
– Wellness Programming