16. Beware of wheats
Next to rice, wheat is the most commonly ingested grain in the Malaysian diet. Every day, we consume food products made of wheat like pasta, bread, breakfast cereals, instant noodles, roti canai, cakes, buns etc. Wheat has become a staple food and plays a major role in our diets.
The thought of these delicious foods as harmful seems ridiculous. How can wheat be harmful?
The dangers of wheat and the misconceptions surrounding it are summed up excellently in his book 'Wheat Belly" by Cardiologist, William Davis, M.D. In his book, Dr. Davis says that the consumption of "aggressively crossbred and hybridized" modern wheat is the cause of rising obesity rates and a myriad of other diseases, including celiac, diabetes, heart disease, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and even schizophrenia.
So is wheat bad?
Historically no. Wheat is one of the oldest known grains. Some accounts suggest that mankind has used this wholesome food since 10,000 to 15,000 B.C, when archeologists discovered large earthenware jars full of wheat grains in the Egyptian tombs.
When grown in well-nourished, fertile soil, whole wheat is rich in vitamins E and B complex, many minerals, including calcium and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
Unfortunately, the modern version of wheat is a far cry from the ancient plant. As with other commercially grown grains, scientists began cross-breeding wheat plants to arrive at new varieties that are hardier, shorter, and yield more. In fact, the newer, high-yield hybridized wheat we've been eating since the 1980s has been selectively bred to produce high gluten grains that seem to trigger inflammatory responses in our body, causing more problems than ever. Among the diseases attributed to the consumption of wheat is Celiac disease.
Celiac disease (also known as Coeliac disease)
Celiac disease is a severe reaction to gluten that primarily affects the gastrointestinal system. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat as well as in rye, barley and oats. If you have celiac disease and eat gluten, it will trigger an auto-immune response that damages the lining of your small intestine. This reduces your ability to absorb nutrients from food and can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, infertility and bowel cancer.
However, there are studies in people who are affected by gluten, despite not having the disease, and display damage to the intestinal lining and experience pain, anemia, bloating, stool inconsistency and tiredness, among others. There is also evidence that gluten can make the lining of the intestine more permeable, potentially allowing partially digested substances to “leak” from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
Celiac disease is one end of the spectrum of gluten intolerance. However, many others may acquire chronic gut inflammation leading to ‘leaky gut syndrome’ and ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ and together these contribute to a host of other diseases related to chronic inflammation of the gut.
The dangers of modern wheat
- Modern wheat is loaded with Gluten. Gluten is the main protein found in wheat and a few other grains like rye, spelt and barley. Gluten gives dough its elastic properties and makes it pliable (it’s what gives bread that wonderful, chewy texture). The problem, however, is in how it's metabolized in the body - many people are unable to properly digest gluten.
According to Alessio Fasano, the Medical Director for The University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research, no one can properly digest gluten as humans do not have the enzymes to break it down. The inability to sufficiently digest gluten protein can lead to all sorts of symptoms, including skin rashes, irritability, aggression, moodiness, ‘brain fog,’ cognitive problems, cramping, bowel problems, pain, and sleep disturbances. Gluten and the other compounds found in today's wheat are responsible for the rising prevalence of celiac disease, "gluten sensitivity," and other health problems.
- Most of the non-organic wheat supply is now contaminated with toxic chemical glyphosate. A large percentage of processed foods are made from wheat, and this helps explain the explosion of celiac disease and other gut dysfunction. Glyphosate causes gut dysbiosis a condition of microbial imbalance in your intestines that can lead to gut inflammation and leaky gut and an overgrowth of pathogens. The villi and gut flora are destroyed by the glyphosate, which reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals.
Read more on the danger of glyphosate: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/09/monsanto-roundup-herbicide.aspx
- Modern wheat is a “supercarbohydrate”. Today’s wheat is dangerous because of the ‘supercarbohydrate’ effect which greatly elevates blood sugar levels, leading to insulin spikes that cause chronic inflammation. This is irrespective of whether it is ‘whole wheat’ or refined wheat’, although refined wheat has the worst effect on blood sugar.
- Wheat’s readily-digested starch amylopectin A, is more efficiently converted to blood sugar than any other carbohydrate, including table sugar. Eating two slices of whole wheat bread could spike your blood sugar levels more than if you'd eat two tablespoons of pure sugar! "Aside from some extra fiber, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar," Dr. Davis writes in Wheat Belly.
- Wheat is acidic - Wheat generates acidic by-products. When your body is chronically acidic, it starts pulling calcium carbonate and calcium phosphates out of your bones to maintain a healthy pH. The bones could eventually become demineralized, setting you up for osteoporosis and fractures. In addition, acidic environment in the body encourages cancer growth.
- Wheat contains a type of protein called lectin (also known as wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) ) which binds to our insulin receptors and intestinal lining and can cause inflammation in the gut and elsewhere. This can result in an immunogenic response which increases intestinal permeability, thus triggering systemic inflammation by the immune system leading to any number of autoimmune diseases, including celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and so on.
- Wheat has an addictive quality to it. Gliadin is a component of gluten abundant in the endosperm of wheat kernel and acts as an appetite-stimulant. When gliadin proteins are broken down, the peptides they form are able to stimulate opioid receptors. Is wheat addictive? Absolutely, wheat for many people feels like something they could never give up and they are often driven to eat more. Some of the most extensively studied food-based exorphins are gluten exorphins from gluten, and gliadorphins from gliadin – all are derived from wheat.
How about whole wheat?
New studies show that even whole wheat may contribute to serious health problems. It has been argued that products made from whole grains contain more fiber and supposedly lead to slower rises in blood sugar.
However, looking at the value of the Glycemic Index* of wheat, it is noted that the average GI of white bread is 72, average GI of whole wheat bread is 71 and sucrose (table sugar) is 68 1. Based on this comparison, the effect of both white bread and whole wheat bread is worse than that of table sugar.
Note: The GI of brown rice is 55 and white rice is about 60
Glycemic Index (GI) - Foods containing carbohydrates, such as sugars and grains, can be categorized by their glycemic index. Foods with a high GI are absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream than those with a low GI. Foods with a lower GI cause a slower rise in blood sugar. Glycemic index gives us an idea of which foods raise our blood glucose fastest and highest. Pure glucose is given a ranking of 100. Ranges of GI are as below:
The overly enthusiastic wheat consumption is one of the main cause of not only obesity and diabetes but also other diseases. Wheat raises blood sugar levels, causes immunoreactive problems, inhibits the absorption of important minerals and aggravates our intestines. Replacing refined grain-based foods such as biscuits, white bread or processed breakfast cereals, with wheatfree whole grain alternatives, including oats, rice, barley, millet, or quinoa, is a much healthier option.
Strictly speaking this means:
- No/ little breads
- No/little pasta dishes/ canai/ mee mamak/ egg noodles (these are all made from wheat)
- No/little junk foods (e.g. cookies, crackers)
- No processed foods (many of them have a wheat product in them).
Now that you are of the health issues on wheat, the decision to eat or not to eat and also the quantity is a choice that you have to make.
Source: 1. Source: http://www.glycemicindex.com/