Wheat has been around for thousands of years. It’s easy to grow and quite nutritious. It was probably one of the first food items our forefathers gathered to feed themselves. Wheat was truly life-giving.
For all these thousands of years, the whole grain kernel was ground and used to bake bread or prepare cereals. Fresh, whole grain has always been a part of our diet without being harmful to our health.
It’s not until the 1960s and 70s that people began to realize that the wheat they are consuming is making them sick.
What happened? Have our bodies changed? No. It’s the wheat we have relied on for thousands of years that has been changed and twisted into something our forefathers wouldn’t recognize.
Industrialization has been good to mankind, but it hasn’t always been kind to the food we consume.
Let’s start with white flour, the first food that we would call “processed.” In 1870, the steel roller mill allowed wheat to be separated to refine the wheat into a white powder. “White” flour was considered fancy.
So, to meet consumer demand, white flour was produced en masse, and the rest of the kernel, the nutritious part, was tossed aside. Within 10 years, all flour was white and seriously lacking in nutrients. Ten years was all the time it took to change thousands of years of nourishment into something “fancy” and lacking in many nutrients.
That was only the beginning, however. By the 1950s, technology once again let us “improve” our wheat. New techniques allowed for genetically-altered seeds, fertilizers, and harmful pesticides to increase wheat production. Again, everyone rejoiced. More wheat for everyone! Cake for one and all!
While the production of wheat increased, its nutritional value was being mangled into something unrecognizable. At the same time, inflammations and immune diseases were being linked directly to this new, “improved” wheat.
Anyone who believes that gluten-free is just a modern phase is half-right. It is indeed something new and modern. But it is not a phase. An increasing number of people are suffering from the effects of modern wheat and refined flour.
The degree can vary – from a bit of wheat sensitivity to greater intolerance to celiac disease, which is the inability to process any amount of wheat due to problems in the small intestines. Especially in the case of celiac disease, the digestive system views gluten as invaders and reacts accordingly. As it tries to attack these toxins, the lining of the gut itself can become damaged, resulting in leaks, inflammation, and other problems. Serious gastrointestinal problems are the result.
The number of people diagnosed with celiac disease has quadrupled in the past 50 years. One percent of the population suffers from celiac disease, and the number is rising. Wheat sensitivity affects up to 8 percent of the population. It is obvious that new “improved” wheat is making people sick.
In studies comparing modern, “improved” wheat to old wheat (called Einkorn), it was found that the old wheat had no harmful effects at all. No one who consumed unrefined wheat suffered any ill side effects or gastrointestinal problems. The same studies showed that modern wheat can affect our autoimmune system in harmful ways, leading to celiac disease and allergies.
People who are not allergic to modern wheat can still suffer. A 2013 study had healthy participants eat either new or old wheat for two months. The group that consumed the old wheat found their cholesterol level had decreased and their level of potassium and magnesium had increased. The opposite was true of the group given new wheat.
It is important to distinguish between gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, although they can have the same symptoms. Gluten sensitivity results in feelings of fatigue, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and headaches. Many people don’t even associate those feeling with wheat, so it’s critical that doctors ask the right questions and test for wheat allergy.
People diagnosed with celiac disease suffer from identical symptoms, but the problem is more specifically defined. The gluten attacks the inflammatory system and can damage the small intestine. Inflammation is linked with a myriad of problems, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and others.
The role of gluten itself is still being studied. What is clear, however, is that this modern, improved wheat is causing some serious illness. While wheat can be found almost everywhere, it is most commonly used in breads, cakes, cookies, pasta, creamed soups, sauces, cereal, and some salad dressings.
Rye wheat can be found in rye breads, beer, and some cereals.
Of course, wheat can be found in many other hidden places, and we will discuss this in much greater detail.
What is clear is that people who have eliminated wheat and gluten from their diet feel better and become healthier. With anyone suffering from celiac disease going gluten-free is a necessity. For others, it is a choice in an effort to enjoy increased health.
Most people also chose a gluten-free diet in order to lose weight. A diet filled with breads, cakes, and noodles is high in carbohydrates and will very likely pack on the pounds. The reason for that is that refined wheat can cause a sugar spike. That means you use sugar for fuel while fat just gets stored and piled up. People find losing weight by cutting refined flour to be much easier and quicker.
Celiac disease can run in families and can be hereditary. People with parents or grandparents who have suffered from celiac disease have a 1 in 10 chance of becoming grain-intolerant.