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Food Snubbing: Wheat

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Poor wheat. And fruit. And Corn. And potatoes. And dairy. And red meat. They are all getting an unnecessarily bad rap.

I don't know about you, but I have heard reports speaking against all of the above, even to the extremes of saying many of these shouldn't have been in the human diet in the first place and should be eliminated. I think this is, at least, very inconvenient (and expensive) and, at most, dangerous. My belief is that God put on these foods on earth for our consumption. Eliminating any or all of them from our diets, for reasons other than allergies or intolerance's, leaves our bodies void of many nutrients they need to run at max efficiency.

Food fads come and go. Someone will decide that a food "causes" problems. Remember when they said peanut butter caused cancer? The same thing came around about cauliflower. Now, peanuts are considered a valuable source of healthy fats (A-hem... They always were!), and cruciferous vegetables, to include cauliflower, are considered healthy for their unique blend of nutrients and fiber.

Hey, if you overeat ANY food, even a healthy one in it's most natural form possible, there are going to be negative side effects. The key is to eat a very wide variety all the time.

So, starting with wheat, I plan to do a series of blogs on what I have heard to be the reasons to avoid the above mentioned foods, and my rebuttal to these reasons:


Reason to avoid: It has a high glycemic index, making it mess with blood sugar.

My rebuttal: When wheat isn't stripped of it's wheat bran, bleached free of it's nutrients, smooshed to bits, and then sprayed with vitamins to "fortify it" (in other words, been turned into common white flour), the glycemic index isn't bad at all and it can actually help to stabilize blood sugar, due to the high fiber content. It's the fact that man has jacked with it so much that has screwed it up. If you want to use white flour for a special and rare dessert, be my guest! Whole wheat flour does not a light dessert make. But for your regular, day-to-day use, go with whole wheat: either white (it's actually a type of wheat, still in it's whole form) or regular brown whole wheat flour. King Arthur is my favorite brand of either. Try it once, and you'll see why. Totally worth the extra cost, IMHO

Reason to avoid: The glucose in it is bad for you.

My rebuttal: The glucose in your regular, cheap, processed white wheat is indeed bad for you. The glucose in whole wheat is not. (See above.)

Reason to avoid: It is a high allergen.

My rebuttal: Are you allergic to it? If so, then avoid it. If not, this is a moot point. I am allergic to tree nuts, but I'm not going to tell you to avoid tree nuts if you are not allergic to them. They are good for you, but they are bad for me. You should eat them, I should not. Duh.

Reason to avoid: It makes you bloat ("wheat belly").

My rebuttal: When some people digest wheat their midriffs do indeed temporarily swell. It's the gases produced by the bacteria in the intestinal tract that are digesting the wheat. In other words, it's air. And this is a good thing: It means the body is breaking the wheat down and sending the good stuff into your body to be used as healthy fuel, as well as separating the fiber to keep your elimination system moving regularly and in a healthy manner. It's a temporary, healthy, and necessary process that will go down as soon as the digestion is complete. Additionally, this tendency tends to be worse if you haven't had wheat for a while. As your system adjusts to it, "wheat belly" will usually go away.

Reason to avoid: It has little nutritional value.

My rebuttal: Hogwash! It's an excellent source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, choline, betaine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, copper, zinc, potassium, not to mention fiber. If that's not a nutrient-rich food, I don't know what is.

Reason to avoid: Celiac Disease

My rebuttal: If you have celiac disease, wheat is going to be a problem for you. So is anything else with gluten in it. But do you know how rare celiac disease is? Last I heard, about 1/2 a percent of all people actually have it, and only 15% of the population are gluten intolerant. How many of the remaining 84 & 1/2% are avoiding gluten because they think it is bad for them? They are missing out on important nutrients, all packaged into one very healthy food, unnecessarily. This is ridiculous. Gluten is what gives wheat it's protein and is rich in iron, among other things. Vegetarians often use it for this reason. Don't go for gluten-free foods unless you have been medically diagnosed as being sensitive to gluten.

Next up: Fruit......
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SKATER787
    Telling people to avoid wheat is a road to riches. People have been eating wheat all their lives and the moment they have to cut it off, many of them will lose weight simply because wheat is the base of Western diet. If you can convince enough people to do that, you'll be rewarded handsomely for their weight loss. That's correct that only a tiny percentage of people have true allergy, but it makes a good excuse to sell your books/methods.

    1802 days ago
    so much info out there who knows what?
    1810 days ago

    Thank you so much for articulating this so well !!!
    1849 days ago

    Thank you so much for articulating this so well !!!
    1849 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    Great blog!
    Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who has not decided to follow the NO-Gluten diet fab. God made it and so I eat it!!!
    The man made JUNK they can keep!

    I look forward to the next blog!
    1849 days ago
    Thanks for the well thought out blog.
    I tried Paleo for a while last year - quit after about six weeks. Besides being difficult to adhere to the program, I found my workouts were suffering, I was bruising easier (what's up with that?!) and had little nagging injuries that just didn't seem to improve. Once I added back in the grains, all that stopped.
    Just plain Clean Eating and moderation are the best for me.
    1850 days ago
    This gluten-free thing does sound like a fad, and I normally avoid such things, however it suddenly occurred to me that since about early March I really haven't been eating much wheat and it wouldn't be a huge stretch for me to just cut out the few wheat items that I do eat. So I'm going to try a little experiment just out of curiosity and try going without wheat for a while.
    1850 days ago
    I am one of those unfortunate people that has a gluten intolerance. I end up getting my carbs from fruit and legumes.

    I have a girlfriend who can not eat wheat because it is a binge trigger food. If she opens up a loaf of Ezekiel bread, the whole loaf is gone in one sitting, so she just can't have it at all.

    But it's definitely silly to give it up if you don't have a good reason to. I sure wish I could have some Ezekiel bread. I envy those who can eat wheat without consequences.
    1851 days ago
    emoticon I agree with you as well. I do know of 2 people with Celiac disease that really can't have the gluten. But why someone would willingly go on a gluten free diet without a reason is beyond me. It seems like they are putting themselves in a lot of misery.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your series.

    1851 days ago
    I absolutely agree with this. "Gluten free" is an unnecessary fad. I went Paleo last year buying into the hype that grains are evil and we should eat more meat. I immediately lost 5 pounds. Whoo-hoo! But then nothing else happened. Except I was struggling with my endurance workouts. And losing lean weight/gaining fat. After 6 months of strict Paleo, I abandoned it. My carbs are back to 50%, my bodyfat is back where it was, my blood pressure has returned to very low and I just had the best race ever. I have been reading more and more about the failed ideals behind "gluten-free" and anti-grain. Important to note that I rarely eat any processed grains. I really enjoy farro as a side dish. Look forward to catching your next blog!
    1852 days ago
  • SUGIRL06
    Ok so after seeing your status update, I had to come read and I actually read this on your other blog yesterday! Ha!

    Now, I agree and disagree. I avoid wheat and all grains (Paleo Diet) and all that jazz. I started following it because a friend suggested I try it. I was feeling lethargic, cranky, sometimes sick to my stomach pretty much regularly. I figured it was just some junk food I ate. Them I read a great book on the paleo diet and thought it was about me. I made the switch and will never look back. I am not celiac and I test negative for gluten intolerance.

    So what I am saying is that I think there are a lot more people put there who might benefit from going wheat free. Take ADVENTURESEEKER as an example. She never knew she had a problem until after she cut it out and tried to add it back in. If she had never tried it, she would not be reaping the benefits of being wheat free now.

    Finally, I have read a lot of information from reputable sources that gluten is inflammatory to our bodies. I don't have any articles right here (commenting from a mobile device) but there is stuff out there. Basically, I just don't want you to dismiss people who give up wheat too quickly.

    As for people who give up foods just to lose weight, we'll then I'm with you! I'd still be eating pasta and bread if I had a choice!
    PS I also like the question that KATZZABELLA raised. That is discussed thoroughly in the book "Wheat Belly"
    1852 days ago
    I eat my whole wheat, but I have really come to love the ancient grains. More tastes and more variety is always the way to better health. I used to make my own whole wheat bread because I was trying to avoid the sugar, but I have found a local baker that uses whole wheat flour, water, yeast , and salt.
    1852 days ago
    Your viewpoint is realistic and appropriate. People with sensitivities clearly should avoid what they're sensitive to. People who think they might have sensitivities would do well to engage in elimination diets that can demonstrate whether a particular food item is, in fact, a problem. Not easy, but possibly better than eliminating a food unnecessarily. I look forward to reading more.
    1852 days ago
  • PURPLE180
    emoticon for sharing...looking forward to your nest series.
    1852 days ago
  • LEWILL1982
    Looking forward to your blogs, I love reading about food and what it can do for our bodies!
    1852 days ago
  • FLYER99
    I love this blog. Looking forward to the series! Have a wonderful day!
    1852 days ago
    Great job!! Thank you for laying it out there!!
    1852 days ago
  • ROCKMAN6797
    I love my whole-wheat products!
    I am the edge of my seat waiting for your next blog because I love my fruit, too!
    1852 days ago
    As a big consumer of whole wheat products, descended from a long line of healthy wheat eating peasants, I appreciate this. Imagine my surprise when fish and nuts were the cause of my intestinal problems - the healthy stuff I was suppose to be eating. A low carb day for me is keeping it under 200g. Works for me!
    1852 days ago
    Excellent! You got my attention in your status today, the sarcasm is what I noticed, ;)

    Yes, common sense goes a long way in all the food warnings we hear every day. Sometimes, it helps to point out the obvious...hence the whole if you're not allergic then no need to avoid something that is otherwise good for you in normal, healthy amounts.
    1852 days ago
    While there are medical reasons for some people to avoid some foods, the majority of people who avoid certain foods does seem a little ridiculous. My sister and niece have celiac and have adapted to gluten free which has helped them a lot. Short of that, if you don't have a medical reason to avoid/embrace certain foods, then sensible eating is probably a better course of action. Or, as Oscar Wilde is reported as saying, "Everything in moderation, including moderation."
    1852 days ago
    I get so tired of people casting wheat as the devil.
    I look forward to the rest of the series.
    1853 days ago
    Interesting call. I can only speak for myself, but since cutting my carbs down from 200-300 gms/day to 50-80, I've seen a) a flattening of my belly, b) about a 5 lb weight loss, and c) a "stabilized" appetite....many fewer cravings.

    Bread is a tough one. We love King Arthur Flour (made a pilgrimage to their Vermont store when we lived in Boston). We'd spend a whole weekend mixing dough, making a sponge, letting it rise a few times overnight, kneading it, shaping it, baking it, and eating it....we had a blast.

    These days, I treat it like a special meal...we'll save up for it, have a feast, then go without for a while.

    SWMBO still eats bread regularly, and she's a big fan of Ezekiel brand
    1853 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/24/2013 9:04:31 PM
  • OPTIMIST1948
    I've reduced the amount of breads and starches in my diet not for any "This Food is EVIL and Must be Eliminated" reasons -- but just because it was the easiest place to start cutting calories. I "discovered" KAF's White Whole Wheat and its what I use on a daily basis. It can replace white flour 100% in most recipes.

    Love the blog.
    1853 days ago
    I love your blogs!
    1853 days ago
    My friends are trying to eat gluten free. I've found that if I follow the calorie range given by SP and include all the fruits and vegetables we are supposed to, I don't eat much wheat anyway. There are plenty of other grains to try. Wheat doesn't bother me, fortunately, but I do have a friend with Crohn's disease who seems to feel better off of it.

    My theory is that people get on these jags to feel better when they don't know what else to do. Truth is, they'd probably feel better if they'd join Spark People and straighten out the big things in their diet, such as lack of fresh produce and too much sugar. I haven't come across a Spark person yet who hasn't felt a lot better addressing the big issues.
    1853 days ago
    LOVE THIS!!! I just had the most frustrating conversation on Sunday with 2 people - one is "skinny fat" and one is just fat - about CARBS! Hello, they are NOT the enemy! I just thought it was funny... I was sitting there with my guns bulging and my 70% carb diet smiling and nodding about how bread and rice and pasta are so horrible. LOL!

    Keep 'em coming!
    1853 days ago
    Agreed! I eliminated wheat for sh!ts and grins during Lent, and because I wondered if that was what caused my hives. I ate wheat the other weekend, and realized it in fact is not the cause of my hives. However, I feel soooooooooo much better without it! It caused me to feel sluggish, bloated, lethargic, and my sleep was terrible for about 2 days/nights afterward. Will it cause me to be completely wheat-free in the future? Meh, I may decide the taste is worth the severe downside every now, but not for now. That was a rough 2 days that I won't get back. And I used to feel like that all the time! Now I know why.
    1853 days ago
    I look forward to your other blogs in this series! Thanks!
    1853 days ago
    Amen sister!! emoticon
    1853 days ago
    I agree with you that these foods shouldn't be avoided. My questions for you is do you think genetic modification has lead to the inability for the proper break down of these foods in our bodies leading to sensitives?
    1853 days ago
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