Barley – a Traditional Grain and a Health Powerhouse

stalks of barleyThis is post number 2 in our series of grains we can turn to if eating wheat is a problem, as it is for so many people.

Part 1 of this series on Wheat and Grains is here

Whether you have wheat allergy or wheat intolerance it is best not to continue eating wheat which just stresses the body and diverts the body’s resources and energy.

Why feel lousy and suffer indigestion and worse from wheat when you can easily switch to barley instead?

And there are plenty of positive reasons to choose barley as a regular food.

Barley is the basic or default grain for many around the world. Whether you are from Northern Scotland as my Mother was or throughout Africa and the Middle East  – in fact right through to Tibet – Barley was the staff of life.

So I grew up as a “Barley boy” nourished by frequent Barley soups and happily make them now myself from Pearl Barley – our selection at home.

What’s special about Barley is not on the simple ingredients of the nutrition label. Yes it is a worthwhile source of B vitamins and of the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc, all of which it’s worth saying most people are short of.

What is special is the…fibre and please don’t zone out or dismiss this as something to do with “being regular”.

Fibre is really very complex and the effects on the body are really exciting.

  • Effects like powerfully regulating your blood sugar which is vital not just to diabetics but to all of us who may be hypoglycemic or even stressed.
  • Effects like powerfully regulating the inner environment in the gut so that healthy bacteria flourish there excluding disease causing bacteria. The health of your body depends on the health of your gut and if that is poor everything else will suffer. This one benefit is enough of a reason for any health conscious person to seriously consider including barley in their eating plans.
  • And effects like lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol, reduces visceral fat – belly fat – and increases satiety that important signal from the brain that tells us with a satisfied sigh that we have eaten enough food and it’s time to relax and digest it.

I could go on but the beneficial health effects mentioned so far are so important that I believe that anyone who wants to find simple and tasty foods to include in their diet and get all the health boosting effects in the bullet points is well served by using barley and it can be as simple as …

Traditional Barley Soup Recipe

For Pearl or Pot Barley

1 cup of barley grains

4 cups of water or vegetable stock

Add veggies according to taste. I will usually add

A handful of carrots cut into small pieces

I onion – diced

Half a Swede or big Sweet Potato cut into small pieces

I don’t add salt or spices to this I just let the veggies speak for themselves. Try this basic recipe first and then on the second time add some of your favourite foods and vary it.

That will give you a simple and nourishing soup ideal for all dull and cold days – ideal with your main meal or as a hot supper. Pearl barley takes 45 to 60 minutes to cook and Pot barley may take an hour and a half.

And that is just the beginning. You can make Barley Tabular, Barley Bread – anyone who likes to experiment in the kitchen has a lot of fun ahead of them playing with Barley and giving the lucky souls eating their recipes one of the best superfoods in the world.

Credits: Research Info

Whole Grains Council here

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Barley and Blood Sugar control



Alex Newell ND

I'm Alex Newell and I am a Physicist who retrained as an Osteopath and Naturopath when my own health began to decline in my 30's. In fact I kept training and asking questions and began writing books and blogging over the last few years. The purpose of this blog, is to help those with an interest in Natural Health Care to improve their health and detox and chelate industrial chemicals out of the brain and body in a safe and effective way. Please feel free to ask questions and contact me

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