In this sure-to-expand database, I provide links and discussions on the hidden health dangers of wheat backed by strong scientific research.
It is interesting to note that wheat is one of the very few grains in Chinese nutrition that is considered Cooling or Cold in property (despite aspects of it being inflammatory, more on this in my upcoming Intro to Chinese Medicine article), and thus has many detrimental effects, especially on the digestive ‘Fires’ if consumed in excess. From the Chinese perspective, digestion is the paramount ‘Centre’ of our being, it requires Warmth (Yang) to generate the vital energy it then supplies to the entire body. It also readily contributes to ‘Dampness’ which can be seen as pathogenic microbes such as yeast and fungal growths, as well as excess mucus production, causing a ‘dampening’ of the digestion system resulting from incomplete/weakened food absorption – while other grains such as barley or rye exhibit a dampness drying effect. Due to the digestive system being central in the production of Qi (Vitality) a decline in digestive function can spiral out to affect every other system of the body.
Conventional wheat – the backbone of Western, especially North American nutrition – may thus likely play a significant role in the current rampant chronic disease states we see today, from obesity to allergies, asthma to metabolic syndrome, even in heart disease. While I believe that all foods can be used medicinally, to the degree and modification that it is consumed today, wheat loses this value and may be best universally avoided for optimal health. When compared to the traditional Asian staple of rice, as discussed in ‘The China Study‘ – the largest nutrition study ever done, wheat may join the ranks alongside pasteurized dairy and conventional red meat (opposed to grass-fed) as being more harm than good when consumed on a regular basis. The research below backs this assumption.
As a final note, this discussion borders on supporting ‘Paleo’ diets, and while there may certainly benefits, I will be adding future articles to remind us that no one-size-fits-all diets are appropriate and there are many faults in Paleo thinking as well.
In a video overview, Sayer Ji, the author of “The Dark Side of Wheat,” discusses the emerging viewpoint that wheat represents a human species-specific intolerance that should be universally avoided. Part two discusses many other health related topics.
“The globe-spanning presence of wheat and its exalted status among secular and sacred institutions alike differentiates this food from all others presently enjoyed by humans. Yet the unparalleled rise of wheat as the very catalyst for the emergence of ancient civilization has not occurred without a great price. While wheat was the engine of civilization’s expansion and was glorified as a “necessary food,” both in the physical (staff of life) and spiritual sense (the body of Christ), those suffering from celiac disease are living testimony to the lesser known dark side of wheat. A study of celiac disease and may help unlock the mystery of why modern man, who dines daily at the table of wheat, is the sickest animal yet to have arisen on this strange planet of ours.”
“Now that celiac disease has been allowed official entry into the pantheon of established medical conditions, and gluten intolerance is no longer entirely a fringe medical concept, the time has come to draw attention to the powerful little chemical in wheat known as ‘wheat germ agglutinin’ (WGA) which is largely responsible for many of wheat’s pervasive, and difficult to diagnose, ill effects. Not only does WGA throw a monkey wrench into our assumptions about the primary causes of wheat intolerance, but due to the fact that WGA is found in highest concentrations in “whole wheat,” including its supposedly superior sprouted form, it also pulls the rug out from under one of the health food industry’s favorite poster children.”
In this article a key question is brought to the forefront, namely, is eating wheat and gluten free enough to obtain optimal health? The mass market has done quite a good job of accommodating the gluten & wheat free movement by providing an increasingly wide number of good tasting and seeming nutritious “whole grain” products. But are whole grains like rice, or other common wheat substitute flours like potato, really as good for us as we think?
- The Late Role of Grains and Legumes in the Human Diet, and Biochemical Evidence of their Evolutionary Discordance
“As touched upon previously, the issue of antinutrients in raw cereal grains is a very real issue. There are components in raw cereal grains which wreak absolute havoc with human health and well-being. The primary storage form of phosphorous in cereal grains is phytate, and phytates bind virtually all divalent ions, i.e., minerals for our purposes. Excessive consumption of whole-grain unleavened breads (50-60% of total calories) commonly results in rickets, retarded skeletal growth including hypogonadal dwarfism, and iron-deficiency anemia. The main lectin in wheat (wheat germ agglutinin) has catastrophic effects upon the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, the alkylrescorcinols of cereals influence prostanoid tone and induce a more inflammatory profile, as well as depressing growth.”
This article reminds us that Paleo ‘grain blamer’s’ may not have all the facts straight, and while as detailed above, grains certainly do have their detrimental effects, there is much more to the picture… correlation is not causation.
The link above takes you to the FAQ on his page.
Wheat today is not what it used to be. It is more of a hybrid version of 19th century and earlier versions of wheat our ancestors relied on for their daily bread. The same is true for a few other grains…