Should we stop eating wheat?

Wheat sensitivity, wheat allergies, celiac disease: it seems that these issues are getting more attention lately.  Why?

picture of wheat

wheat field

Most of us are carb junkies (even if we don’t want to be), and wheat plays a major role in our diets.  Overall, it supplies about 20% of the total food calories worldwide, and is a staple in most countries.   

However, wheat is being increasingly blamed for the onset of some health conditions, like obesity, heart disease, and the prevalent wheat intolerance issues we keep hearing about.  Wheat raises blood sugar levels, causes problems with the immune system, inhibits the absorption of minerals, and can cause problems in our intestines.

What’s up with wheat?

According to George Dvorsky in Food Science, the issue goes back to the 1950’s when scientists began breeding wheat to make it “better”.  He indicates that this breeding mechanism introduced some compounds to wheat that aren’t good for us.  Sodium azide, for one, is a known toxin, and is present in today’s hybridized wheat products.  Also present are proteins which are difficult, if not impossible, to digest, and which are not found in the plant itself. 

Also present are glutens.  Glutens are present in other grains also, like rye, barley, spelt, etc.  It’s what gives breads the soft, chewy texture that we all love.  But it is hard to metabolize, and most people don’t have the enzymes to break it down. Because of this, glutens can trigger systemic inflammation, which can lead to autoimmune diseases.

Should we eat it?

I don’t know.  The fiber found in all whole grains is beneficial and assists in fighting cancer and other health problems. And, really, we need fiber in our diets, as one of my previous posts highlighted.  But, if we can obtain the necessary insoluble fiber and other nutrients by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, wheat may not need to be as big a part of our diets as we thought.

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