What’s With Wheat

By Guest



I’ve been a nutritionist for 33 years and I know how to eat a healthy diet. As I hit my late 40’s I began to gain weight, I had long standing nagging lower back pain, I had aches in my joints, tightness in my throat, an agonizingly sore hip, foggy brain and I began to wake at night around 3.00am with anxiety.

I decided to do a food elimination protocol. In three weeks I lost 20lbs in weight, all my aches and pains disappeared, sore hip disappeared, I had energy unbounding and had an amazing clarity of mind.

I then began introducing foods back into my diet again, everything seemed fine until I added wheat; my sore back came back, I gained 1.5lb overnight, I felt vague and all the symptoms came back that had so miraculously disappeared.

What’s with wheat I queried to myself? I had studied cultural anthropology at university and I knew that we had been eating wheat for thousands of years as either a slurry (porridge) or bread. Wheat and the agricultural age enabled us to change from being nomads and become settled, thus civilisation as we know it today.

I began researching wheat and found many things that factored into the problem of ‘what’s with wheat’. From my research I created a documentary called What’s With Wheat and you can now view this on Netflix. Let’s explore what I learnt.

Wheat is in Almost Everything

Wheat is in most of our food supply. The average diet contains a large quantity of wheat in the form of bread, cereals, pasta, crackers, cakes, biscuits, cookies, pies and more. Most people would eat at least one of these foods at every meal or snack.

Not only is there the wheat that you can see written on the ingredients that are obvious, but there are many foods, additives, preservatives, medications, vitamins that are made with wheat as a starter or use wheat as an excipient.

Let’s take two for example.

When you see on your ingredient list the words, glucose, malto-dextrose, and dextrose you may think they come from sugar but in fact they come from wheat, there are many wheat-based sugars in our food supply. The ascorbic acid you find in your vitamin pills also has a starting point of wheat.

The Fortification and Enrichment of Wheat

Wheat flour has been fortified with B vitamins and minerals for the last 70 years.

Food fortification programs in the United States started as a means of correcting serious nutritional deficiencies in some portions of the population. Niacin was added to wheat flour for bread to help prevent pellagra. Further enrichment of flour for bread with iron, thiamine, and riboflavin as well as niacin, grew out of health problems identified during World War II.

A more current trend is the addition of folic acid to wheat flour.

You may think that this is a good thing and surely it couldn’t be something that could be contributing to the issues we seem to be having with wheat. The problem is; where are the vitamins and minerals coming from? Are they coming from food or are they mined (minerals) and vitamins made in a laboratory and not by nature.

And why do we need to fortify a food that is normally rich in B vitamins and minerals?

Refinement of the Wheat Grain

In order for the flour to have a longer shelf life, the wheat germ is removed.

Wheat germ is the small, nutrient-containing center of a wheat kernel, comprising only about 2.5% of the weight of the kernel, but packing a very beneficial list of attributes.

Wheat Germ is a bountiful source of energy, fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates, all of which interact in numerous ways with the body’s internal systems. Important daily vitamins like folate, Vitamin E, and B (Niacin, Thiamin, and B6) can also be found in high levels in wheat germ. Minerals are usually not far behind vitamins, and wheat germ provides good levels of potassium, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. The wheat germ also has omega-3 fatty acids.

Bran is also removed from the wheat grain, which is the fibre content of the grain but that is not the only thing. Bran has some protein, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B6.

It seems a little ludicrous to take much of the natural nutrition out of the grain only to replace it with synthetic vitamins and mined minerals.

The Making of Bread

Culture and traditions passed on through the generations enables civilizations to survive. Through trial and error we’ve learnt what foods make us thrive and those that possibly kill. Sometimes we may not know why we do things, but it is tradition and it possibly had something to do with survival.

With culture and tradition in mind let’s look at bread and how it is made. Bread was once prepared from sour dough, it was a long tedious process, it took up to three days and sometimes longer depending on the starter culture. The sourdough and fermentation process broke down the proteins and sugars for easy digestion.

Current bread practices differ. Most bakers begin with a premix. Water and yeast are added, a quick rise, into the oven and within less than an hour the bread is made. Yes the bread may taste similar (or though I beg to differ) but the process of pre-digestion done by the micro-organisms in the sour dough compared to the premix breads renders modern bread harder to digest. To eat this bread once in a while would probably not be an insult on the digestive tract, but the fact that bread and foods made from flour are eaten up to 6 and 7 times a day, this then becomes a problem.

Learn more about the scary ingredients in bread manufacturing

The Hybridization of Wheat

In the 1970’s a scientist by the name of Norman Borlaug manipulated varieties of wheat in order to produce the modern wheat grain - triticum estivum. It is very different from our ancient wheat’s including; einkorn, emmer, kamut and spelt. The modern wheat was created for higher yield and easy mechanized farming, not for nutrition. Modern wheat is also bred for it’s gluten (protein) content, the more gluten the lighter the loaf and the more appealing to the modern taste, but the more inflammatory to humans.

Read about the benefits of going Gluten-free

The story doesn’t end there. The chemical company BASF is now producing another wheat known as Clearfield wheat. This wheat is herbicide-resistant to imazamox, also known as Beyond. Clearfield wheat is noted by it’s maker BASF to not be the product of genetic modification but there is an alteration in the acetohydroxyacid synthetase gene of the wheat. In order to create this variant of wheat the process of chemical mutagenesis is used. Essentially, this means that the wheat seed is exposed to the chemical sodium azide, NaN3 which is highly toxic to animals, bacteria, and humans, with human ingestion of small quantities yielding effects similar to cyanide.

This wheat has been planted in several states of the USA.

Holding Wheat in Storage

Once wheat is harvested it is held in large storage areas. These storage facilities attract vermin that eat the wheat grain. Phosphine is used, as a gas in the silo’s to keep the vermin away. Poor application and use of phosphine causes resistance to wheat pests. Methyl Bromide was used in the past but due to the nature of this fumigant applications on grain have ceased.

Detectable traces of phosphine can remain in fumigated wheat grain for long period of time. A study by Dumas detected phosphine desorbing from fumigated wheat 220 days after the treatment.

While I understand that large amounts of stored grain has to be protected, and phosphine has been chosen, I think it’s good to know that this is what is done to stored grain and that it may be part of the problem, but in isolation it is probably not the whole problem.

Roundup – Glyphosate – Sprayed Before Planting.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. It is a broad-spectrum herbicide which works by inhibiting an enzyme found in plants and micro-organisms which stops the shikimate pathway thereby inhibiting the production of amino acids. Glyphosate has been registered for use for over 40 years but in the last 15 years the application of this herbicide has increased exponentially.

Glyphosate is used before sowing a crop or pasture; it is used before the sowing of wheat, rye, triticale, barley, oats, rice, cotton and sugar cane. It is used on sporting fields, forests and parks to clear annual and perennial weeds, it is used on vineyards, berries and other small fruits (excluding strawberry), citrus fruits, tropical and sub- tropical fruits, pome (apple and pear) fruit, stone fruits, tree nuts, duboisia (cork wood), hops, tea and roundup ready genetically modified foods including soy, corn, canola and sugar beet. In fact most people probably use it in their back yard.

Glyphosate is also used as a desiccant sprayed on the crop about 3 weeks before the harvest, this decreases the chaff and increases the yield of the grain.

Wheat is our concern here, but the broad application of this herbicide cannot be denied and the new research regarding this herbicide also cannot be ‘head in the sand’ stuff.

Concerns have been raised about human exposure to the common herbicide glyphosate following International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) assessment which has classified glyphosate in a group of chemicals that is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.

From research, I believe the most significant effect glyphosate is having is acting as a broad spectrum antibiotic on our GUT bacteria, this in turn creates a cascade of health effects including; decreased immunity, increased food sensitivities, reduced digestion, reduction in vitamin production and absorption, leaving us prone to parasites, increasing our risk of IBS and IBD (Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Disease); to name a few issues.

The Growing Phenomenon of Fructose Malabsorption

Wheat contains the polysaccharide Fructan. During digestion fructan breaks down into fructose in the small intestine.

A number of people in the population cannot completely absorb fructose in their small intestine before it passes through to the large intestine. While this was relatively unheard of when I studied nutrition, it is becoming more of a phenomenon.

The unabsorbed fructose and undigested fructans pass into the colon where the bacteria in the large intestine digest it and produce gases and metabolites which cause intestinal bloating, cramping, gas and distention. Diarrhea may also occur due to these unabsorbed and undigested sugar molecules.

The symptoms of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) can be very similar to the symptoms of fructose malabsorption. Recent research is indicating a large percentage of IBS patients may actually have fructose malabsorption and will see improvement of symptoms on a low fructose or low FODMAP diet.

Although elimination may help through the FODMAP’s the true way to health is to improve the microbiome and gut to enable us to digest foods again and not have to keep eliminating the from our diet. This is easier said than done, commitment is required.

Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity – NCGS

In 2011 researchers began addressing the presence of reactions to gluten in people that did not have celiac disease (CD). It was called NCGS and relates to one or more of a variety of immunological, morphological or symptomatic manifestations that are caused by gluten in people who do not have celiac disease but experience symptoms when eating gluten.

NCGS is a rapidly evolving area of knowledge with many unknowns. The sensitivity does not appear to be autoimmune in nature, and it is unknown if there is a genetic component or an environmental trigger, but gluten seems to be the constant.

Autoimmunity and Gluten

Autoimmunity is described as the inability of the body to know itself from the enemy.

There are many reasons that may cause autoimmunity, but they are assumptions more than absolutes. Some examples are; molecular mimicry, leaky gut, environmental triggers, genetics, viruses or all of the above. But one thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that many autoimmune diseases seem to have some relationship with gluten. It could be the part instigator or the perpetuator of the disease but is still up for discussion. What we do know is when we go off gluten and clean up the diet the antibodies to the organ or system the body is destroying reduce in number.

What To Do

Many people may be suffering from maladies that our current medical system does not know how to handle, except perhaps give a pain-killer or anti-inflammatory to deal with the issue. But if wheat is the problem despite a negative celiac diagnosis and/or wheat allergy the only way to know if wheat and gluten are your problem is to abstain from wheat. A six week abstinence will begin to show this reality. Going off wheat is not as easy as said. Watch the documentary What’s With Wheat on Netflix and then go onto the 6 Weeks No Wheat Program. Like thousands before hand, you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Written by Cyndi O’Meara
Nutritionist
Best Selling Author of Changing Habits Changing Lives
Founder of ChangingHabits.com.au
Founder of Functional Nutrition Academy - fn.academy
Producer and Co Director of What’s With Wheat.


By Guest| July 12, 2017
Categories:  Live

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