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Like all Body Ecology grain-like seeds, millet was first cultivated several thousand years ago. It is a hearty plant that can thrive in a variety of environments—from poor, dry land to fertile, moisture-rich soil.
Unlike other Body Ecology grain-like seeds, millet is a “true grass.”
This means that millet seed comes from a cereal grass—similar to wheat, rye, and barley.
According to some sources, millet competes with wheat, corn, and rice as one of the most valued grains grown worldwide. (1) India, Africa, and Asia are the largest producers of millet. But in spite of its long history and popularity, millet is not common in the United States. You will most likely only find millet seed and flour at your local health food store.
Millet Is Gluten-Free and Not Cross-Reactive
Millet is recommended on the Body Ecology Diet because:
- It is gluten-free.
- It has an alkalizing effect on the body.
- It is antifungal—making it the best grain to use if you have Candida overgrowth. (2)
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 3 million Americans have celiac disease. And as many as 18 million Americans suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. (3) Although celiac and non-celiac patients only respond to wheat-free dietary therapy, even this can be tough to manage.
When it comes to gluten sensitivity, gluten is often just the tip of the iceberg.
As it turns out, the immune system sometimes gets mixed up and recognizes non-gluten foods as containing gluten. This has to do with the structure of molecules. It’s called a cross-reaction. Many everyday foods are susceptible to cross-reaction—examples include the proteins in milk, corn (found in most processed foods in one form or another), and coffee.
According to some scientists, the presence of cross-reactive substances may lead to multiple autoimmune disorders. (4)
Millet is one grain that you may not have to worry about.
A study published in 2011 found that millet—along with teff, quinoa, and amaranth—does not cross-react with the proteins in wheat. (5) Researchers concluded that these grains and grain-like seeds are safe for those with gluten sensitivity.
The Health Benefits of Millet
Millet boasts a dense nutrient profile. It is rich in iron, zinc, and folic acid. (6)(7) This means that it may protect the body against certain forms of anemia, like iron deficiency anemia and megaloblastic anemia.
And while anti-nutrients (like phytic acid) may decrease the availability of minerals like iron or zinc, research shows that soaking and sprouting millet shuts down anti-nutrients and unlocks minerals. (8) When preparing millet, using a probiotic starter may be even more effective than simply soaking. (9)
Millet may help control symptoms of high blood sugar and diabetes.
Studies have found that millet has a low glycemic index—which means that it does not drastically raise blood sugar levels. (10) One study compared wheat, rice, and millet. Researchers found that a breakfast of millet significantly reduced blood sugars levels. They concluded that the high fiber content in millet might be responsible. (11)
Millet also contains compounds that act as natural antioxidants in the body!
In 2011, the Journal of Functional Foods published a study on millet and its antioxidant value. (12) Researchers found that compounds in millet could inhibit rogue cell growth. They concluded that millet might help prevent or regulate the growth of cancer.
Millet in the Kitchen
In order to enjoy all the benefits of millet and easy digestion, be sure and follow the Principle of 80/20. You digest best when 80% of your plate is made up of non-starchy vegetables and ocean vegetables—while the remaining 20% can include a Body Ecology grain-like seed or animal protein.
For you, this may mean a side of millet with a fresh salad, slow-roasted cruciferous vegetables, and a couple tablespoons of cultured veggies topped with dulse. The combinations are endless! If you are looking for a little inspiration, you can sign up for our Body Ecology Meal Plans.
The #1 key to perfect millet: Always soak millet for 8–24 hours before cooking, rinsing at 8 hour intervals.
Like all cereal grains, millet naturally contains anti-nutrients that interfere with both mineral absorption and digestion. Soaking millet for at least 8 hours and as long as 24 hours ensures that these anti-nutrients don’t get in the way.
We strongly suggest that in addition to water, you add a tablespoon of InnergyBiotic when soaking your grain-like seeds. This will help “soften” the grains, making them easier to digest.
A few more tips when preparing millet:
- Millet cooks best at a 1:2 ratio. For example, you can cook 1 cup of millet in 2 cups of filtered water or vegetable broth. If you would like “creamy” millet, bump up the water (or broth) to 3 cups—or a 1:3 ratio.
- If using unfiltered water, be sure and add a pinch of Celtic sea salt.
- When cooking millet, bring water to a boil and then move to the lowest setting on your stovetop. Cooking time varies, but your millet will most likely be ready to pull off the heat at around 15 minutes.
- To avoid scorching the millet, remove from heat just before all the cooking liquid has been completely absorbed.
- Like rice, millet does best when allowed to sit off the heat and covered for at least 10 minutes.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Millet is a grain that comes from cereal grass, like wheat, rye, and barley. Millet is a top choice on the Body Ecology Diet because it is naturally gluten-free, antifungal, and alkalizing in the body. Millet also isn't cross-reactive, so the immune system won't confuse it for gluten to cause an inflammatory response.
Some of the major health benefits of millet include:
- Dense nutrient profile.
- May protect against anemia.
- May control diabetes and high blood sugar symptoms.
- Protects the body with natural antioxidants.
Millet can be enjoyed at home by soaking for 8-24 hours and rinsing at 8 hour intervals before cooking. For the best results, combine a tablespoon of InnergyBiotic with millet while soaking to make it easier to digest. If you're looking for menu guidance and inspiration, check out the Body Ecology Meal Plans to learn more about the Principle of 80/20 today!
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- Nambiar, V. S., Dhaduk, J. J., Sareen, N., Shahu, T., Shah, H., & Desai, R. (2011). Potential Functional Implications of Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in Health and Disease. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, 1(10), 62-67.
- Pitchford, P. (1993). Healing with Whole Food: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Book, 462.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Retrieved July 17, 2013, from http://www.celiaccentral.org/non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/.
- Vojdani, A., & Tarash, I. (2013). Cross-reaction between gliadin and different food and tissue antigens. Food and Nutrition, 4, 20-32.
- Badau, M. H., Nkama, I., & Jideani, I. A. (2005). Phytic acid content and hydrochloric acid extractability of minerals in pearl millet as affected by germination time and cultivar. Food chemistry, 92(3), 425-435.
- Lestienne, I., Besancon, P., Caporiccio, B., Lullien-Péllerin, V., & Tréche, S. (2005). Iron and zinc in vitro availability in pearl millet flours (Pennisetum glaucum) with varying phytate, tannin, and fiber contents. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 53(8), 3240-3247.
- Basahy, A. Y. (1996). Nutritional and chemical evaluation of pearl millet grains (Pennisetum typhoides (Burm. f.) Stapf & Hubbard, Poaceae) grown in the Gizan area of Saudi Arabia. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 47(2), 165-169.
- Turpin, W., Humblot, C., & Guyot, J. P. (2011). Genetic screening of functional properties of lactic acid bacteria in a fermented pearl millet slurry and in the metagenome of fermented starchy foods. Applied and environmental microbiology, 77(24), 8722-8734.
- Mani, U.V., Prabhu, B.M., Damle, S.S., and Mani, I., Glycemic Index of some commonly consumed foods in Western India, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2, 1993, 111-114.
- Kumari, P. L., & Sumathi, S. (2002). Effect of consumption of finger millet on hyperglycemia in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) subjects. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 57(3-4), 205-213.
- Bergamo, P., Maurano, F., Mazzarella, G., Iaquinto, G., Vocca, I., Rivelli, A. R., ... & Rossi, M. (2011). Immunological evaluation of the alcohol‐soluble protein fraction from gluten‐free grains in relation to celiac disease. Molecular nutrition & food research, 55(8), 1266-1270.
- Chandrasekara, A., & Shahidi, F. (2011). Antiproliferative potential and DNA scission inhibitory activity of phenolics from whole millet grains. Journal of Functional Foods, 3(3), 159-170.
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