WHEAT – Good, Bad or Misunderstood?
By Vanessa Henning, Nutritional Therapist
Did you know that two slices of whole wheat bread is equivalent to 6 teaspoons of table sugar, causing a rapid spike in blood sugar levels? Wholegrains are considered healthy complex carbohydrate, that should be included as part of a balanced diet. The interpretation of a balanced diet differs between individuals. Wheat is consumed by the majority of the population on a daily basis. Manufacturers add wheat and gluten to processed foods and you would be surprised by how many items on the store shelves and in the freezer contain wheat and gluten unknowingly. Take a moment to consider what meals you ate over the past few days.
Is bread making you bloated and fat?
Digestion starts in the mouth. Amylase, a digestive enzyme, is excreted in saliva in the mouth and digestion of carbohydrates begins. All food is broken down into glucose upon digestion. Glycemic Index (GI) refers to the rate at which food is converted to glucose in the bloodstream. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested, absorbed and metabolized, resulting in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Bread possesses a high GI, increasing a person’s risk of metabolic diseases, especially insulin resistance and diabetes. The effect that this rapidly absorbed carbohydrate has on blood sugar levels, with a knock-on effect on the hormone insulin, which is involved in the uptake and transport of glucose into the cell, leads to weight gain and digestive disturbances.
Ancient Wheat vs Modern Wheat
Wheat fields used to boast 5ft tall crops. In the 1960s and 1970s changes were introduced to wheat using techniques that are claimed to be far worse than genetically modified methods. A semi-dwarf strain was introduced yielding 2ft tall crops producing shorter, stockier grain which lead to critical changes in the gliadin content. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and gliadin is a subcomponent of gluten.
Modern wheat was introduced to increase the yield of wheat. At that time of introduction, the health consequences of an altered structure of grain on the human body were unknown.
The structure of gliadin today looks a lot different from the structure of gliadin in the 1950s.
The bad news
Gliadin, present in modern wheat, acts as a powerful appetite stimulant. The more we eat, the more we want to eat, and so our waistlines expand.
Lectins in wheat destroy intestinal lining. Genetic altering of plants has caused fluctuations in lectin levels. For those suffering from inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the gut lining seems to be more sensitive to food lectins.
The good news
By removing this powerful appetite stimulant from the diet, weightloss and blood sugars will stabilize, helping to correct metabolic abnormalities. Reports of unpleasant digestive symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, constipation and/or diarrhoea dissipate. People who were walking around with brain fog claim that they feel clearer. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Diseases experience a decrease in occurrence of symptoms and need for medication. Remarkable improvements have been noted in those suffering from arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Asthma symptoms improve, and a decrease in depression has been documented.
Most people are unaware of the effects that wheat has on their body until it is removed from their diet. A complete elimination of wheat and wheat products is recommended in order to experience results. As with most food, there is controversy surrounding wheat. My advice to you is to avoid it completely for a period of one month and note the changes in your body, your weight and digestion. You are your best doctor!
Extensive research demonstrates that gut health is fundamental to overall health. Our ancestor were never exposed to the highly processed carbohydrate, calorific diet we are exposed to today, at almost every meal.
During your elimination diet, return to REAL, UNPROSSESSED foods. A simple rule to live by is eat foods as close to their natural state as possible.
If you do not take time to eat healthily, you had better make time to be ill.