The Dark Side of Wheat

The next time you’re ordering that pizza, you might want to think twice because a dark side of the seemingly harmless wheat exists and you ought to know about it. Wheat contains a wicked substance called the “gluten”. It messes up your gut flora, leading to many diseases.

It is hard to believe that wheat is not good for us! Isn’t it? You might be wondering, our ancestors ate it too and they were fine, why has it suddenly turned bad for us! Dr William Davis, New York Times, best selling author says wheat has changed quite a bit over time. Modern wheat is much different than the strains of ancient wheat.

Eating excessive amounts of wheat can cause diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, allergies, hypothyroidism and many other diseases. You might not have any of these diseases now but there’s a high chance of getting it if you continue eating wheat!

I am sure you have come across the term  “gluten-free” many times. Everybody is talking about it. It’s all over! In the supermarket shelves and on the restaurant menus. The health experts are talking about its ill effects too.

Is going gluten-free just a new health trend or is there some deeper truth in it?

Glutenin and Gliadin are the two main proteins in the wheat. Gluten is the substance that helps your dough become elastic and rise. This makes your bread soft and fluffy at the end. It’s not just Wheat that contains gluten but some other grains like Rye, Barley and triticale also contain the same form of gluten in them.

Here are some of the common varieties of wheat

  • Spelt
  • Durum
  • Common Wheat
  • Emmer

Some of them are suitable for making pasta and some for bread but unfortunately they all contain gluten.

Let’s talk about why eliminating gluten from your diet is one of the best decisions you can take for your health.

You might not always immediately react to wheat whenever you eat wheat-based foods unless you have celiac disease. The gluten will, over time, disrupt your gut environment.

55 diseases (including Leaky Gut Syndrome) can be caused by gluten! This scientific review was published in the “New England journal of medicine”

What’s wrong with modern wheat?

Modern day wheat is genetically quite different from the wheat humans ate about 50 years ago. This wheat is genetically modified to withstand pathogens and drought. It contains a larger variety of proteins. The grain is mass produced, hybrid and armed with better defense against pests. Unfortunately, this is bad news for humans and gut health.

List of common foods which contain gluten

  • Pasta
  • Baked foods (Cakes, cookies, muffins, doughnuts)
  • Bread
  • Some seasonings and spice mixes
  • Cereal
  • Pizzas
  • Salad dressings
  • Soup Mixes
  • Sauces

Before humans began to cultivate grains, we ate berries, roots, greens, tubers and occasionally some meat. Even after we started eating grains, our diet was balanced. We ate limited amounts of grain-based foods, that weren’t processed to white flours. Our diet consisted of significant amounts of vegetables, fruits, berries, and animal proteins.

An estimated 1 in 133 Americans or about 1% of the population has Celiac disease! “Beyond Celiac” an organization creating awareness about the disease published it.

What’s Celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a serious, genetic, long-term autoimmune disease. It is caused by a reaction to gluten. Upon exposure to gluten, an abnormal immune response may lead to the production of many antibodies. This could eventually lead to autoimmune diseases. [Source]

Some people may experience all the symptoms of Celiac disease and yet be tested negative for Celiac. Such a condition is referred to as “Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity” or “gluten intolerance”. Classic symptoms of Celiac include diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal cramping, bloating, foul-smelling stool etc.

The substances in the wheat can contribute to initiating a pro-inflammatory immune response. Many medical and psychiatric disorders have been associated with chronic inflammation. Including cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, depression etc. It’s estimated that 83 percent of Celiac disease sufferers either haven’t been diagnosed or have been misdiagnosed with other conditions.

Gluten doesn’t get digested properly and it turns into opiate-like substances. These substances are thought to block certain areas of the brain. People sensitive to these substances crave them more, says Dr. Natasha Campell-McBride, author of GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). She describes how researchers have found gluten peptides in the urine of patients with various mental illnesses. (Autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, depression etc.)

This protein can contribute to a range of conditions. That includes osteoporosis, canker sores to fatigue and inflammatory bowel disease.

There are many people struggling with inflammation-related health conditions. Most people take medications to minimize their symptoms but this will only treat them on the surface level. They have to keep taking these medications if they don’t eliminate the root of the problem and the problem is “gluten”.

The leaky gut syndrome is a digestive health issue and millions of people are struggling with it. Gliadin and glutenin which composes gluten cause damage to the lining of the gut making it leaky. This leads to bad bacteria and toxins to get into your bloodstream leading to many physical and mental ailments. The undigested gluten increases the bad bacteria in your gut, disrupting the gut microbiota. [Source]

It’s important to keep your gut flora balanced with good bacteria and by eliminating bad stuff from your diet. Nutrition rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and natural probiotics keep your gut healthy.

More research is coming out naming gluten as one of the major reasons for disrupting intestinal barrier. This allows harmful bacterias and toxins to leak through your intestine into the bloodstream.

An estimated 12 percent of Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is one of the digestive problems but there are many others and the doctors have not been able to identify the cause of it. Many of you may be silently suffering from digestive problems for years and the culprit could be the seemingly innocent wheat protein-“gluten”. It’s also present in Barley and Rye. Beer contains gluten as it’s made with barley!

The inflammation caused by gluten doesn’t stop at negatively affecting just your body. Your brain gets affected too. Scientists have found out that a group of children with autism had an increased immune reactivity to gluten. Also shows leaky guts in the affected children. One study found that the children who stuck to a gluten-free diet, their physiological and social behavior improved. [Source]

Dr. Jason Tye-Din from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and colleagues have developed a new approach to detecting celiac disease. Revealing this immune disorder is far more common than previously recognized. They found more than half of Australians had genetic risk factors for developing Celiac disease!

Gluten Sensitivity!

Gluten sensitivity is much more common than Celiac disease. Wheat is one of the top eight food allergens in the United States,  says the “Healthline” website. In this case, you react badly to gluten. Some common symptoms are skin rashes, digestive problems, bloating etc.

People with irritable bowel syndrome who ate wheat experienced intense problems associated with the disease.

Now that you know everything about gluten, you could test if the gluten-free diet makes any difference in your health. Try to eliminate wheat and other grains, which contain gluten for a month and note down all the differences.

Beware of all the “gluten-free” products in the supermarket!

Every “gluten-free” food product is not healthy! A gluten-free product can be loaded with sugar or saturated fats. Please read all the ingredients on the package or it’s always fun to get fresh ingredients and cook your own dish!

Always opt for fresh fruits and vegetables and natural proteins and probiotics.

Some of the gluten-free grains are

  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Amaranth

We have been eating wheat as long as we remember and our ancestors ate it as well but it’s time to look into it with a new perception. Try it for yourself. Start by eliminating wheat from your diet for a while and feel the difference! Start today!

If you have symptoms related to gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, get yourself tested soon!

Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thyrve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.