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[Fluffy Fruited Pancakes from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free, made with Ricki’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix.]
A reader asked about baking on the ACD and using lower glycemic flours. She added, “I notice. . . that most gluten-free flours or flour recipes include as much or more starch than they do flours (they usually seem to be bean flour–I notice you use millet, which surprises me since I stopped eating millet after I read it was high glycemic). Wouldn’t all that starch skyrocket the glycemic index of whatever you were making?”
Here’s my answer to her question.
I think here are actually three parts to this question.
I. First, should you use flours at all on the ACD?
For me, flours were basically out of the question for the first few months of the diet. Commercially available flours are (minimally) processed from whole grains, which means they have a greater chance of causing problems for anyone on the ACD. In addition, flour of any type will have a higher GI than the corresponding whole grain (see Dr. Weil’s explanation, here). It’s always better to consume the whole grain if you can, particularly at the beginning stages of the diet (note that I didn’t start using flours until Stage 2).
In addition, an intact whole grain will often retain more of its nutritional value than the flour, since many flours are made from milled grains (that have been slightly refined, such as white rice) or have had the bran and the germ removed (the germ contains oils that can become rancid quickly in the flour form). Once grains are ground into flour, they begin to lose their nutritional value fairly quickly, which is why you should always store whole-grain flours in sealed, dark containers in a cool place (or even in the freezer if you won’t be using them fairly quickly).
When you do use flour, it’s always best if you can make your own flours from whole grains that you buy. It’s actually very easy to do! If you grind the flour yourself and use it quickly, it will contain all of the nutrients and fiber of the original grain. I simply grind up my grains in a coffee grinder that’s reserved for that purpose (the HH uses a different one for his coffee!). Be sure to grind up only what you need at one time, to avoid loss of nutrients. It’s also much more economical to buy and store whole grains than flours.
Although I sometimes have a reaction to baked goods prepared with purchased grain-based flours, I have never had that experience when I simply grind up my own flours. If I make buckwheat pancakes with freshly ground buckwheat flour, for instance, I have no worries about eating them as long as the other ingredients are also ACD-friendly. In other words, for me, at least, it’s fine to use “acceptable” grains in the flour form. These days, I do use purchased flours for much of my baking–but I’ve been following this diet for over 9 years, so I was able to re-introduce some flours.
[Grain-Free Raw Cookie Dough Snack uses high-protein beans, nuts and coconut flour for a lower overall GI]
II. Do starches and grain-based flours have too high of a GI (glycemic index) to be safe on the ACD?
Glycemic index measures how quickly the body can convert a food into glucose (and thereby raise blood sugar levels). However, GI on its own can be misleading, since the foods are all measured in isolation. Yes, starches do have a high GI value when measured on their own. In reality, we don’t eat most foods with nothing else added. Don’t forget that in flour mixes, starches are most often combined with other flours as well. In the majority of my own baked goods, for instance, I combine starches with at least one other flour, usually a very low GI flour such as nut/seed meal or bean flour. (This is why I don’t use grain-starch only mixes, even though I know that some readers are not fond of bean flours). In addition, combining flours with fat, protein and/or fiber will lower the overall GI as well.
In other words, when you consume a food that contains a flour mix, the overall impact of that food on blood sugar is mitigated by what other ingredients have been included in that food. For later stages of the ACD, I have found that recipes made with flour mixes, and containing minimal (and low GI) sweeteners are fine for me once in a while. However, what works for me may not work for you; each individual needs to find what works for her/him.
[One of my favorite uses for millet: Baked Millet-Squash Porridge.]
III. Why do you use millet flour if millet is high GI?
Yes, millet flour has a relatively high GI. But, as I mentioned above, the GI on its own isn’t the best indicator of how healthy a food is, or whether it’s suitable for a low-sugar diet. By always combining millet flour with other flours and ample fiber, protein, and fat, the overall effect of the baked good on blood sugar levels is minimized. That said, as I mentioned above, I didn’t use flour at all in the beginning stages of the diet.
There are also other reasons to favor millet on the ACD. Millet is actually one of the healthiest and least allergenic grains around. This is important on the ACD, which tries to eliminate all allergens and give the body’s immune system a rest so that it can marshall its energies against the candida. It’s also the only grain that is considered an alkaline food. Since the body’s own optimum pH is alkaline (between 7.35 and 7.45), millet can offer an alkalizing effect when other grains don’t.
Did you find this information useful? If so, let me know! And if you have your own candida-related question you’d like answered, please leave a question in the comments or send me an email (subject line: Q&A Question) to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Please note : this information is not intended as medical advice; it is provided for information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I qualified to diagnose or treat patients. This information reflects my own personal experience, and everyone is different. Please check with your doctor or healthcare provider before changing your diet or embarking on a new diet.
Johanna GGG says
Even though I don’t follow an ACD diet – I find this sort of information useful. And I think Sylvia would be fighting the girls for her share of the plain flour (if she wasn’t terrified of dogs) 🙂
Ha ha!! Oh, no, terrified of dogs–?!! Well, Elsie is the perfect “child-friendly” dog. Our neighbors’ kids pull her tail, ears, bop her on the nose, etc. and she just stands there, totally calm. Chaser, on the other hand. . . uh, no. 😉
Johanna GGG says
Yes terrified of dogs. I find it odd as I grew up with lots of dogs around me. But even with my parents’ old dog (who died a year or so ago) she was terrified and that dog was scared of other dogs and would let kids play with her like you describe with elsie. I’m working on it.
Maybe a puppy? Or a stuffed dog–?? Does seem odd if you grew up with them! Hopefully she will come round as she gets older. 🙁
Jesse @OutToLunchC says
Great post Ricki! I have been grinding my own flours in my vitamix (I have the dry blade) and I love it. It takes a couple extra minutes but it is MUCH cheaper than buying flour. Its funny you mention millet as being the last allergenic grain because I’m actually sensitive to it!
So sorry to hear that about millet! I just love it. But grinding flours really is a great way to save money, and I agree, it only takes a few minutes. 🙂
Very useful and well explained in easy terms – I’ll be sure to link to this resource and point my readers your way 🙂
Thanks, Sandra! Much appreciated. 🙂
I love this, Ricki!!! Thank you. Great explanations. I too love millet and use it often. I am looking forward to more Q&A posts!
Thanks so much, Amber! And please be sure to submit any questions you have as well. 🙂
I really appreciate this post Ricki, and look forward to more in the series. I’m mindful of GI in my own eating, though I don’t follow any particular diet (outside of eating vegan). In the past, however, I’ve had clients who follow the ACD and they’ve posed these same types of questions to me, which you address FAR more effectively than I ever did. I love your clear explanations and will direct folks to your site to learn more about this. In the meantime, I TOTALLY need to start grinding my own flour, so thanks for the inspiration! Best to you and The Girls! 🙂
Thanks so much, Sara! I’m so glad the information is useful! And thank you for the kind words and support. As for grinding flours, I don’t do all of them (or even do them all the time), but I do find that I seem to digest home-ground flours more easily than store-bought ones, even with the least allergenic grains, like buckwheat! (The Girls say, “woof!”, too). 😉