What's Gone Wrong With Wheat?
Well for a start, when I say ‘wheat’, the first words that come into many people's heads are...
Bloated ... Itchy ... Diarrhoea ... Constipation ... Headache.
Has wheat always had these effects on people?
Did the 5000-strong crowd request gluten-free when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes?
Have all the generations through history suffered from bloating and sneezing as they ate their ‘staff of life’?
No, this seems to be very much a modern phenomenon, wheat is now one of the top eight allergens in the US so what’s going on?
First off, we are eating a very new hybrid, not traditional wheat. Ancient civilisations used a wild wheat called Einkorn and the bread of the bible was probably made with the first cultivated wheat called Emmer.
Both are very different to the wheat we consume today.
We’re eating a modern wheat that has only been around since 1960. It has been deliberately cultivated to deliver higher yields and to be cheaper to farm. This has not been without a price though and the public are paying it.
This new wheat contains half the protein, way more gluten and nearly a third less important nutrients such as zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, calcium, lutein and B vitamins than traditional wheats.
These facts have been identified by the longest running scientific study in history, The Broadbalk Wheat Experiment which has been analysing different strains of wheat since 1843.
Why does it matter?
This new wheat contains far higher levels of gluten and especially a certain gluten protein (Glia-α9) that is particularly problematic for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
In contrast, other studies have found that ancient wheats such as Einkorn did not have any negative effect on intestinal cells and caused significantly less allergic reactions. Is it a coincidence that The Mayo Clinic has found that since 1960 when this new wheat was introduced, celiac disease is now four times more common and affects about one in 100 people?
Traces of Roundup have been found in wheat samples. As I looked into our modern wheat I was shocked to discover that wheat fields are routinely sprayed with Roundup just before harvest to effectively kill off the wheat. This ensures that all the wheat is ready to harvest at the same time and delivers a higher yield. Handy for the farmer but a potential problem for the consumer!
Modern wheat has been found in studies to contribute to raised cholesterol and increased inflammation in the body and inflammation of course is linked to many conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
What can I do?
Think about how often wheat features in your daily diet. Is it the main guest at breakfast, lunch AND dinner? Does it also feature as a regular snack in the form of biscuits, cakes and pastries? That’s a lot of wheat and much of it accompanied by refined sugar and trans fats.
It can be daunting at first, thinking about how to reduce the amount of wheat in your day but if you know you suffer with some of the symptoms above after eating wheat then finding alternatives to some of those wheat hits is a smart move.
Back in the day when my health was very poor I couldn’t imagine cutting bread out of my life; just the thought of crusty French bread and cheese would leave me drooling (I’ve set you off now haven’t I?) but there came a point when I just wanted to feel better and it wasn’t worth the moment of joy that bread brought against the discomfort that lasted way after the bread was forgotten.
If this all sounds like you, then take heart. I have found that there are so many wonderfully delicious wheat-free delights out there that I only discovered when I needed to look!
Please note though that I’m not talking about replacing wheat with gluten-free breads, cakes, biscuits etc as they are just glorified sugar hits disguised as ‘healthy’.
Eventually, I cut wheat out completely and over time felt so much better. Restoring the other areas of my ill-health took longer but in fact now that my health is fully restored, I have found that I can include wheat back in again occasionally without any side-effects. When baking I choose Spelt flour as it is a more traditional flour.
If you feel at a lose on how to remove wheat from your day to see if that helps your symptoms then here's an example day's menu for you:
Breakfast – Porridge made with wholegrain oats and almond milk with 1 tbsp ground linseed, some berries (frozen or fresh) and a handful of walnuts Lunch – brown rice salad with colourful varied salad vegetables, green leaves, beetroot, tinned salmon Dinner – lamb stew with root vegetables and a side serving of lightly steamed green vegetables Snacks – handful of unsalted nuts or vegetable crudites and a dip
Need more ideas? Click here for my free ebook Lose The Weight For Good. It’s not just about weight it’s about how to eat healthily for life.
Have you found an improvement in your health when you cut down on wheat? How do you cope when you eating out? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below.