You may have lived your life under the impression wheat is a healthy grain. However, recent research suggests wheat may not be as healthy as previously believed. Wheat-free diets are becoming more and more popular. Learn why people are avoiding wheat and what steps you should take concerning your wheat intake.
Why Are People Worried About Wheat?
This issue originates with a best-selling book by U.S. cardiologist Dr. William Davis called “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health.” Davis claims this grain is causing us to be sick and overweight.
Our modern wheat is genetically altered and is, therefore, the cause of many diseases, including celiac disease, diabetes and heart disease, according to Davis. He points to a protein in wheat called gluten as the problem. He also says wheat is addictive and is the cause of stomach bulges, which he calls “wheat bellies.” For this reason, many people who struggle with weight are wondering whether or not they should eat this grain.
What Do Other Experts Say?
Experts say the data used to support this idea that wheat has changed for the worse came from an experiment conducted in a lab, not conventional plant-breeding. Many experts say wheat has not changed dramatically and no clinical evidence suggests adverse health effects.
Some experts contend that Dr. Davis’s claims are only based on anecdotal evidence and his findings are not surprising because nearly all diets work for a while. Most experts say most people should not entirely eliminate wheat from their diets.
Some People Should Worry About Wheat
Some people have an inherited disorder called celiac disease. These people have bodies that can’t process gluten because their immune systems attack the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Celiac disease is on the rise, and about one in 100 people have the disease. People can get tested to determine if they have it.
Symptoms include bloating, skin rashes, joint pain, anemia and infertility, but many people go years without a diagnosis. Other people have wheat or gluten sensitivities and might benefit from not eating wheat.
Wheat and Weight
What about wheat and weight? Our society consumes a great deal of highly processed carbohydrates, and eating refined grains regularly can lead to increased levels of insulin. That can drive appetite and fat storage, but most experts say wheat is not the only reason people are overweight.
In fact, people in European and Asian countries consume more wheat that those in the United States, yet these nations have lower obesity rates. Also, Americans a century ago ate more wheat than we do today, but were not obese.
In Davis’ book, he discusses how his overweight patients ate plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but continued to gain weight. Then, they cut out wheat and dropped 50 to 100 pounds in one year. (Among 30 recent patients, the average weight loss was 27 pounds over six months.)
Davis points out even whole-wheat bread raises blood sugar more than a Snickers bar. This is a problem for diabetics especially, but research suggests everyone can benefit from stabilizing their blood sugars.
Many people are now choosing gluten-free products at the grocery store and gluten-free menu items at restaurants, but many of these contain too many sugars and simple starches that also quickly raise blood sugars.
Low-carb diets can help people lose weight when combined with exercise. People concerned about wheat can try eliminating it from their diets and see how they feel and what results they notice. They don’t have to cut out wheat but might want to choose healthier, unrefined wheat products.
So as you consider your options for a healthy lifestyle, for example enrolling in an HCG Diet Seattle residents have popularized, wheat’s role in your diet is something you may want to think about.
About the Author: Gina Owens is a contributing writer and health coach who has been advising her clients about wheat lately.