The processing of grains has dramatically changed over the last few centuries. Grains are processed so finely these days that they are actually pulverized, or made into powder. If you go back just a few centuries, grains were actually stone-ground by hand and the flour was more of a meal rather than a powder.
Let’s take a look at the particle size of these two kinds of flour. The diameter of a hand-ground particle is about 100 microns. The diameter of a particle of today’s pulverized flour is about 10 microns. Now, that’s just the diameter. In terms of volume, pulverized particles are 1000 times smaller than hand-ground particles.
Now, let’s look specifically at the SURFACE AREA of each particle. The larger particle will obviously have more surface area than ONE of the smaller particles. But if you combine the surface area of 1000 pulverized particles, which equals the same volume of ONE of the stone-ground particles, the cumulative surface area of the pulverized flour is actually 10 times larger than the same amount of stone ground flour.
Now, why does surface area matter so much? Well, Because when enzymes in your gut breakdown the grains in your gut and prepare it to be absorbed in the blood stream, they only have the surface of each particle to work on! If they have more surface to work on, they will finish their job faster. Since today’s pulverized flour has 10x more surface area than naturally ground flour, it is broken down and absorbed 10 times faster into our bloodstream. This outrageous absorption rate causes extremely high spikes in insulin blood levels which leads to insulin insensitivity, diabetes, and other common western diseases.
With so much talk these days about the Paleo diet and the danger of grains, is the content of the grain or the way they are processed and pulverized that needs to be taken into consideration?