Wheat

wheat

It's been called the staff of life. It's central to many cultures and is the principal food for millions of people. When you want to sell a home, the smell of freshly baked food can make people feel "at home" and promote the sale. So can there be any problem with wheat - the principal grain found in almost all baked goods?

Recent information about celiac disease is that about 1% of North American people have it. That means that wheat and all the rest of the gluten grains cause these people many problems. They include abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea to name just a few. In addition, celiac sufferers can have joint pain and swelling, headaches (including migraines) and anemia, as well as malabsorption.

What is also becoming clear to many practitioners is that, while not testing positive for celiac, a number of people, possible a large number, are intolerant of wheat. Not allergic, just not able to eat wheat and stay healthy. Some people may be fine with a little wheat but can't tolerate a larger amount.

How do you know?

You might have suspected that something was wrong for a long time. Some people with wheat intolerance just don't feel well after a meal which contains wheat. They may experience cramps, bloating, pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. Many of these symptoms overlap those of irritable bowel syndrome.

For some , the problem may manifest as respiratory symptoms: nasal mucus, increased clearing of the throat, a wheezy cough or even asthma.

Others may have skin problems: eczema, dry scaly skin, even the dark smudges that appear under the eyes when you haven't had enough sleep could be caused by a food intolerance such as to wheat.

Does this sound like you or your child? How do you find out?

Food allergy testing by an allergist using skin prick is not a good way. Two common test methods are ELISA blood testing - often arranged by physicians practicing integrative or complementary medicine. The other way is to avoid wheat for at least several months. You may get relief from of your symptoms almost immediately if they are abdominal, digestive or headache. But if they are skin or mucus related, this takes longer.

One of the 'rules' of natural healing is that when you eliminate something which your body doesn't 'like', there will be a 'discharge' - essentially what happens when you body begins to eliminate stored excesses incurred by the consumption of this food. This often takes the form of a cold, flu, or other 'illness' which is actually your body using these organisms (usually bacterial) to help clear out your system.

In which foods do you find wheat?

It may surprise you, when you begin to investigate foods, how many of them contain wheat. The list includes:

  • breads, muffins, crackers, bagels. Don't be mislead by deli rye - it's about 85% wheat.
  • noodles (oriental noodles like udon are wheat as are some soba noodles), Pastas, unless they say specifically "gluten or wheat free".
  • cous cous, bulgur
  • almost all baked desserts and most cookies, some chocolate bars and even licorice

What are acceptable wheat substitutes?

Two 'ancient' grains have been rescued from obscurity and are very similar to wheat in the way they bake, but are OK - kamut and spelt. I prefer kamut. It has a nutty, rich taste and the bread baked from it holds together a little better than spelt.

100% rye bread is fine for most people, but it's heavy. The most familiar form is the dark rye German breads - usually found sliced thinly.

The other non-gluten grains are also fine and are now being made into a variety of pastas and noodles. They include:

  • amaranth
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • millet
  • teff
  • corn
  • buckwheat
  • chia (Salba)

With a little ingenuity and an investigative sense, you will, by careful reading of labels, and by becoming an observer of your own reactions, find out what works for you.

The following is taken from Mercola.com and is an interesting and compelling argument against eating wheat.

Grains Contain Anti-Nutrients

In the United States, we're told that grains (especially whole grains) are an important part of a balanced diet, necessary for obtaining our daily requirement of healthy nutrients and fiber.

However, according to a growing number of experts, including Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University and an expert on Paleolithic lifestyles, humans are NOT designed to eat grains, and doing so may actually be damaging to your gut.

Dr. Cordain explains:

"There's no human requirement for grains. That's the problem with the USDA recommendations. They think we're hardwired as a species to eat grains. You can get by just fine and meet every single nutrient requirement that humans have without eating grains. And grains are absolutely poor sources of vitamins and minerals compared to fruits and vegetables and meat and fish."

Ironically, since we're often told that whole grains are the best for our health, the high-fiber bran portion of grain – a key part that makes it a whole grain -- actually contains many of the anti-nutrients. But the problem isn't only that there are superior sources of nutrients; grains actually contain anti-nutrients that may damage your health. Dr. Cordain states:

"Grains are the seeds of a plant. They're its reproductive material, and plants don't make their reproductive material to give away for free to other animals. If they did they'd become extinct, and so the evolutionary strategy that many plants, particularly cereal grains have taken to prevent predation is to evolve toxic compounds so that the predator of the seeds can't eat them, so that they can put their seeds in the soil where they're meant to be to grow a new plant and not in the gut of an animal to feed it."

There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that grains, as well as legumes, contain anti-nutrients and other problem substances that may increase intestinal permeability. This includes:

Gliadin

Gliadin is the primary immunotoxic protein found in wheat gluten and is among the most damaging to your health.  Gliadin gives wheat bread its doughy texture and is capable of increasing the production of the intestinal protein zonulin, which in turn opens up gaps in the normally tight junctures between intestinal cells (enterocytes).

In celiac disease the body will make antibodies to gliadin after it is digested by the intestinal enzyme tissue transglutaminase, resulting in severe autoimmune damage to the delicate, absorptive surfaces of the intestines. It does not, however, require full blown celiac disease to suffer from the adverse effects of this protein. In fact, it is likely that our intolerance to gliadin and related wheat proteins is a species-specific intolerance, applicable to all humans, with the difference being a matter of the degree to which it causes harm. 

This helps to explain why new research clearly shows gliadin increases intestinal permeability in both those with, and those without, celiac disease.

Lectins

Lectins are a key mechanism through which plants protect themselves against being eaten, and are found in highest concentrations in their seed form -- which makes sense, considering that seeds are the plants'  "babies" and whose survival ensures the continuation of their species.

When animals consume foods containing lectins, they may experience digestive irritation, along with a wide range of other health complaints. The degree to which the adverse effects are expressed depends largely on how long that species has had to co-evolve with that particular form of plant food it is eating.  Since humans have only been consuming unsprouted grains and beans in large amounts for approximately 500 generations, we still suffer far more than certain rodents and birds, who have had thousands of generations longer to adapt to this way of eating.

We are mostly exposed to lectins from grains, beans, dairy products and nightshade plants, such as potato, tomato, and chili peppers. However, bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a prominent role to play in lectin-induced adverse effects, due to the fact that it is a relatively new form of wheat, and contains wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) – a particularly resilient and problematic lectin, considering it is not eliminated through sprouting and is actually found in higher concentrations in whole wheat.

Studies indicate that it has the potential to contribute to a wide range of adverse health effects, including gut inflammation and damage to your gastrointestinal tract:

Pro-inflammatory--WGA stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers (cytokines) in intestinal and immune cells, and has been shown to play a causative role in chronic thin gut inflammation.

Immunotoxicity--WGA induces thymus atrophy in rats , and anti-WGA antibodies in human blood have been shown to cross-react with other proteins, indicating that they may contribute to autoimmunity . In fact, WGA appears to play a role in celiac disease (CD) that is entirely distinct from that of gluten, due to significantly higher levels of IgG and IgA antibodies against WGA found in patients with CD, when compared with patients with other intestinal disorders.

Neurotoxicity-- WGA can cross your blood-brain barrier through a process called "adsorptive endocytosis," pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor, which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons.

Excitotoxicity-- Wheat, dairy, and soy contain exceptionally high levels of glutamic and aspartic acid, which makes them all potentially excitotoxic.  Excitotoxicity is a pathological process where glutamic and aspartic acid cause an over-activation of your nerve cell receptors, which can lead to calcium-induced nerve and brain injury. These two amino acids may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease, and other nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, ADD/ADHD and migraines.

Cytotoxicity—WGA has been demonstrated to be cytotoxic to both normal and cancerous cell lines, capable of inducing either cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death (apoptosis).

Disrupts Endocrine Function—WGA may contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance by blocking the leptin receptor in your hypothalamus. It also binds to both benign and malignant thyroid nodules , and interferes with the production of secretin from your pancreas, which can lead to digestive problems and pancreatic hypertrophy.

Cardiotoxicity—WGA has a potent, disruptive effect on platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and safely removing neutrophils from your blood vessels.

Adversely Affects Gastrointestinal Function causing increased shedding of the intestinal brush border membrane, reducing the surface area, and accelerating cell loss and shortening of villi. It also causes cytoskeleton degradation in intestinal cells, contributing to cell death and increased turnover, and decreases levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells, leaving them more vulnerable to damage.



As we noted earlier, the highest amounts of WGA is found in whole wheat, including its sprouted form, which is touted as being the most healthful form of all ... The traditional ways of addressing many of these anti-nutrients is, in fact, by sprouting, fermenting and cooking. However, lectins are designed to withstand degradation through a wide range of pH and temperatures. WGA lectin is particularly tough because it's actually formed by the same disulfide bonds that give strength and resilience to vulcanized rubber and human hair.

The following is taken from Rodale: Prevention Magazine

Take everything you've heard about whole wheat and throw it out the window. It's not a health food, it's making you fat, and your digestive tract hates you for eating it, according to the author of the New York Times best-selling book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health(Rodale, 2011).

 

So how—and when—did this ancient grain become such a serious health threat? Author and preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD, says it's when big agriculture stepped in decades ago to develop a higher-yielding crop. Today's "wheat," he says, isn't even wheat, thanks to some of the most intense crossbreeding efforts ever seen. "The wheat products sold to you today are nothing like the wheat products of our grandmother's age, very different from the wheat of the early 20th Century, and completely transformed from the wheat of the Bible and earlier," he says.

Plant breeders changed wheat in dramatic ways. Once more than four feet tall, modern wheat—the type grown in 99 percent of wheat fields around the world—is now a stocky two-foot-tall plant with an unusually large seed head. Dr. Davis says accomplishing this involved crossing wheat with non-wheat grasses to introduce altogether new genes, using techniques like irradiation of wheat seeds and embryos with chemicals, gamma rays, and high-dose X-rays to induce mutations.

Clearfield Wheat, grown on nearly 1 million acres in the Pacific Northwest and sold by BASF Corporation—the world's largest chemical manufacturer—was created in a geneticist's lab by exposing wheat seeds and embryos to the mutation-inducing industrial toxin sodium azide, a substance poisonous to humans and known for exploding when mishandled, says Dr. Davis. This hybridized wheat doesn't survive in the wild, and most farmers rely on toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides to keep the crops alive. (It's important to note, however, that the intensive breeding efforts that have so dramatically transformed wheat should not to be confused with genetic engineering of food, or GMOs. This type of technology has its own set of problems, though.)

So what does all of this plant science have to do with what's ailing us? Intense crossbreeding created significant changes in the amino acids in wheat's gluten proteins, a potential cause for the 400 percent increase in celiac disease over the past 40 years. Wheat's gliadin protein has also undergone changes, with what appears to be a dire consequence. "Compared to its pre-1960s predecessor, modern gliadin is a potent appetite stimulant," explains Dr. Davis. "The new gliadin proteins may also account for the explosion in inflammatory diseases we're seeing."

The appetite-stimulating properties of modern wheat most likely occurred as an accidental by-product of largely unregulated plant breeding methods, Dr. Davis explains. But he charges that it's impact on inflammatory diseases may have something to do with the fact that, in the past 15 years, it's been showing up in more and more processed foods. Wheat ingredients are now found in candy, Bloody Mary mixes, lunch meats, soy sauce, and even wine coolers.

As if making you hungrier wasn't enough, early evidence suggests that modern wheat's new biochemical code causes hormone disruption that is linked to diabetes and obesity. "It is not my contention that it is in everyone's best interest to cut back on wheat; it is my belief that complete elimination is in everyone's best health interests," says Dr. Davis, "In my view, that's how bad this thing called 'wheat' has become."

When Dr. Davis' patients eliminate wheat from their diet, the outcomes are often dramatic, with many losing as much as 20 pounds during the first month. He reports that patients experience relief from acid reflux, esophagitis, gas, cramps, and diarrhea stemming from irritable bowel syndrome after ditching wheat. Joint swelling and pain are often completely eliminated, he says, and patients report improvements in everything from asthma and skin conditions to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Rye, barley, and oats share some of the same properties of wheat because they all contain gluten-like proteins. Dr. Davis urges his patients to opt for non-wheat grains like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, and wild rice, but in smaller quantities (less than half a cup) to avoid triggering high blood sugar.

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