When we told friends and family that we were cutting out wheat from our diet, one of the more common reactions we got was,
"That's crazy. I mean, if you have celiac disease or something, alright, but wheat is natural. It's what we were made to eat."
Yes, wheat is a staple of the American diet. It takes up a fair share of the food pyramid. It is the primary ingredient in breads, pastas, cookies, cake, and is in many sauces, soups, spice mixes, and more. It's hard to imagine life without wheat.
But what if this staple of life is really an agent of death?
Thanks to modern breeding practices, today's wheat is unlike its ancient ancestor: wheat seeds have been exposed to high doses of gamma and microwave radiation and grown with harmful pesticides.
In fact, modern wheat has been so transformed that it can't even grow in the wild anymore (so much for being "natural").
Is Wheat Bad for You or Is Wheat Healthy?
Here are 4 things to consider when evaluating whether you should have wheat in your diet or not.
1. Wheat Might Cause Leaky Gut
Although Leaky Gut Syndrome isn't something that is recognized as a medical diagnosis, it is known that leaky gut exists.
Gluten, one of the proteins in wheat, causes zonulin to be released in your body. Zonulin regulates how permeable our intestines are—how much liquid or gas can pass through it. Too much of this is called "leaky gut."
The more gluten you eat, the more zonulin you have. The leakier your gut becomes.
The leakier your gut becomes, the more undigested food in your intestine (i.e. poop) can enter your bloodstream. Ick. (source)
In case it isn't obvious, your body probably doesn't like it when poop enters the bloodstream.
It's thought by some practitioners that our immune system mounts up for an attack when this occurs, and over time, that this can lead to multiple autoimmune diseases (like celiac disease, arthritis, thyroid disorders, and others).
2. Wheat Might Cause Weight Gain
When you eat wheat, it is broken down into sugar in your body, causing your pancreas to secrete insulin. This is known as an insulin spike.
After this comes the blood sugar "crash," bringing back hunger cravings with a vengeance. Furthermore, when your insulin levels are continually high, you store fat rather than burn it.
Added to this are the lectins in wheat. Lectins are in a lot of different foods, but wheat is one of the biggest offenders in the standard American diet.
Lectins don't break down in your gut but bind to receptors in your intestinal wall. More lectins in your system causes you to become resistant to the hormone leptin.
Leptin regulates hunger cravings, and when you become resistant to leptin, this can lead to weight gain, sleep disturbances, and nutritional deficiencies.
Note that soaking grains greatly reduces lectins, so that is one way to approach this issue.
3. Wheat Can Cause Inflammation
Inflammation is your body's natural defense against invaders. If, for instance, you have a wheat allergy, the proteins from wheat are seen by your body as invaders.
Even if you don't have a wheat allergy, wheat can still cause leaky gut (see above), and leaky gut puts digested bits of food (i.e. poop) in your blood. All of this leads to inflammation, which can lead to all kinds of issues.
The best way to fight potential (or actual) illness is to cut out all inflammatory food like wheat and sugar.
4. Wheat Could Be Affecting Your Brain
After gluten (one of the proteins in wheat) crosses the blood-brain barrier, it can attack the central nervous system. Researches have started noticing a connection between wheat consumption and schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, depression, and ADD, especially in children.
In addition, when some people eat gluten, the opiate receptors in their brains react the same way they might react to heroine. Some researchers think this actually causes a "wheat addiction" and even binge eating disorders.
What Do You Think?
What do you think? Do you think that wheat could be causing issues for you or is it truly a healthy food?
Check out this post on Gluten--No Big Deal or Silent Killer for more of my thoughts.
Did YOU know all of these things about wheat?