Gluten and Wheat: Why You Should Avoid It
Wheat, bread and pasta are often referred to as “The Staff of Life.” In reality, wheat is one of the unhealthiest foods that we use as a staple in the Western diet, next to sugar, due to the gluten protein that is found within it. We all know that sugar has a high glycemic index; it rots our teeth, suppresses our immune system, and contributes significantly to ill health and disease. Can wheat gluten really be as bad a table sugar? The facts are clear, and gluten containing foods are negatively affecting your health.
Wheat (gluten) has been attributed to many symptoms and is a common cause to intestinal problems, allergies, asthma, thyroid imbalance, neurologic dysfunction, infertility, cancer, skin problems, inflammation, balance disorders, and increasing cardiovascular risk to name a few. Weight gain, and obesity are the most common side effects of consuming gluten containing products.
Wheat negatively affects our health from 3 main avenues.
- It contains the protein gluten
- It is a high glycemic food
- It has little nutritional value
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye grains, and is highly allergenic. For many people, gluten containing foods are provided as their first food. This triggers various inflammatory processes that affect the digestive tract, and often lead to symptoms affecting the bowels, and absorption of nutrients and even epilepsy. The medical journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences (February 2000;45:403-406), illustrated the importance of screening for gluten intolerance in patients with autoimmune thyroid due to the complications arising from this harmful protein.
High glycemic foods contribute to chronic disease, insulin resistance, cardiovascular risk, diabetes, weight gain, and other conditions. Wheat has a higher glycemic index than regular table sugar. With that in mind, eating a piece of bread is not too distant from eating a couple spoons of table sugar. Wheat affects the glycemic content of the many foods where it is placed. From bread, pasta, bagels, muffins, and the other packaged foods that contain wheat flour, it is easy to see how we are over indulging in a sugar filled diet. High glycemic foods are one of the main contributors to atherosclerosis, and has been identified in Egyptian mummies from 1981 BC (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009) which consumed a predominantly wheat based diet.
The manufacturing process of wheat today is very different than the wheat harvesting methods of old. When the Egyptians were growing, and eating wheat, they were at least benefiting from the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals of the wheat kernel. In today’s manufacturing practices, wheat is fumigated, refined, processed, and enriched in order to allow for a longer shelf life, and to meet the demands of the FDA. These artificial nutrients are chemically derived, and deficient in the naturally occurring minerals and co-factors needed for the proper utilization of the nutrients found in wheat.
Diet modification is instrumental in improving quality of life, and reducing the symptoms that are experienced as health declines. Through eliminating inflammatory foods such as wheat and gluten from the diet, it is common to see a reduction of pain, weight loss, improved cholesterol, and other health related benefits.