Why avoid wheat? How?
Wheat (wheat flour) is found in bread, pasta, cereal, couscous, noodles, cookies, cakes, pastries, pizza, and many packaged food products. Wheat flour is a white powder that has been milled from wheat (Triticum Aestivum). Much wheat has been genetically modified (hybridized) over many, many years to satisfy the demands of commercial bakers for elasticity and shelf-life. The milling process removes most, if not all, of the nutrients, such as zinc and B vitamins. So-called “whole grains” are often a marketing gimmick. The nutrients in “whole grains” are usually removed in the milling process. Some processors add synthetic vitamins and minerals to the processed grain, but what does this tell you about the processing? Some brown bread in supermarkets has been baked with caramel coloring or molasses to make it look healthy.
Of course, many people eat wheat at every meal, with cereal at breakfast, bread at lunch, and pasta at dinner, but does it nourish them?
It is not about “gluten-free”
Wheat contains not only gluten but also gliadin and other proteins that can be chronically inflammatory to your digestive system. The current fad for “gluten-free” overlooks this fact. “Gluten-free” products usually substitute refined rice, potato, or corn flour for wheat flour. These other refined flours can inflame digestion as much as wheat. On the other hand, buckwheat or oats can be healthy substitutes for many people. Rye and barley also contain gluten, but may be easier for you to digest, if well fermented or gently processed.
Devoid of nutrients, processed wheat also can increase blood sugar (glucose) as rapidly as table sugar or soda. This makes the blood and tissues slightly acidic and tends to deplete you of nutrients, such as magnesium and vitamins C and B. In fact, wheat contains a very unusual type of carbohydrate (not found in other foods) called amylopectin-A, which can increase your blood sugar more than even pure table sugar, according to various studies.
Wheat germ agglutinin
Wheat germ agglutinin is an inflammatory, immune-disrupting protein found in wheat. It is not the same thing as gluten. Wheat germ agglutinin can provoke an inflammatory response in gut cells. It can also disturb the natural immune barrier in the gut. This can make the gut more permeable to things that do not belong in your blood. Many people have a digestive system inflammed by wheat even without a formal diagnosis. Again, this is separate from the problem of gluten. Both gluten and wheat germ agglutinin are found in wheat. You can have trouble with wheat germ agglutinin, even if you have no reaction to a gluten elimination challenge. Simply abstaining from wheat can reduce or eliminate this digestive inflammation. Try it for a week and see how you feel.
Another reason to cut wheat from what you eat is that wheat may reduce blood flow to the brain.
Dr. Peter D’Adamo ND, in his book “Eat Right 4 Your Type“, advises avoiding wheat, particularly if you have blood type O. His advice is to skip bread, sandwiches, pasta, and all that contains wheat. Substitute vegetables, fruits, and oatmeal.
Grains, beans, and legumes contain phytic acid, which can interfere with digestion and mineral absorption in some people. Soaking, processing, or cooking may or may not remove these anti-nutrients. Some people are more sensitive to phytic acid than others. Buckwheat, millet, oats, and quinoa can be practical substitutes for wheat for some people. Others gain health by eliminating all grains.
You may be addicted to wheat, according to Dr. David Perlmutter MD in his book, “Grain Brain“. Wheat may be making you overweight and ill, according to Dr. William Davis in his book, “Wheat Belly“. According to Dr. Davis, if you cut wheat, you can gain health and lose your big belly. Instead of toast, bread, or a croissant with breakfast, why not try oatmeal or buckwheat porridge? Instead of a sandwich for lunch, why not try drinking more water before the meal, and then eating a vegetable salad, protein (meat, fish, chicken, turkey, quinoa, or tofu), and nuts or seeds? All of the recipes on this site are wheat-free.
Nota bene. Again, beware of the horrors of gluten-free foods . Try cutting wheat for a week, and see how you feel. You have nothing to lose by trying this.
Do your own research.
Critics of this idea say people have been eating wheat since the beginning of agriculture almost ten thousand years ago. They further claim that there is no clinical evidence that wheat makes people overweight nor that it depletes minerals and vitamins. There are at least two hundred clinically confirmed reasons not to eat wheat, as compiled by greenmedinfo.com. Wheat can gradually damage your health. Do your own research, and then decide for yourself.
One cheap, simple way to test yourself for possible allergies is to test your pulse, as described by Dr. Arthur Coca, MD in his book, “The Pulse Test“. According to the Vancouver Naturopathic Clinic, besides wheat, the most common foods to trigger a reaction are milk, rye, barley, oats, egg, corn, potatoes, paprika, soy, MSG (flavor enhancer), tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, hot peppers, baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, orange, beef, pea, bean, fish, sugar, plum, fowl, melon, carrot, sweet potato, grape, peanut, pineapple, beet, spinach, strawberry, cinnamon, garlic, black pepper, vanilla, and artificial sweeteners. Not everybody is sensitive to all of these, of course. Each person is individual.
Davis MD, William, “Wheat Belly“, Rodale, 2011
Perlmutter MD, David, “Grain Brain“, Little Brown, 2013
Osborne MD, Peter, “No Grain. No Pain.“, Atria, 2016
Gundry MD, Dr. Steven, “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods“, Harper Wave, 2017
GreenMedInfo on wheat
“Antinutritive effects of wheat-germ agglutinin and other N-acetylglucosamine-specific lectins“, The British Journal of Nutrition 1993 Jul;70(1):313-21. PMID: 8399111
Vander Heiden M, Cantley C, Thompson B., “Understanding the Warburg Effect: The Metabolic Requirements of Cell Proliferation“, Science. 2009;324(5930):1029-1033.